I hadn’t heard Patrick Kennedy was running for office, but I may be living under a rock. Patrick is the son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, and lately has been a featured speaker at several conferences. I hear tell he was featured on national television talking about his passion for recovery and his personal experiences that include both success and relapse.
I was happy to hear him speak to a packed house in New York at the Coalition for Behavioral Health Providers annual conference and he was dynamic, engaging, and open about his troubles with addictions and what he’s doing to recover. I liked that a lot.
He spoke well of the value of technology in Mental Health and addictions treatment, too, and I really liked that. Kennedy was responsible for introducing the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010. Although Kennedy is no longer a member of congress, the efforts continue in both houses of congress to garner government IT funding incentives for mental health and addiction treatment providers.
I have friends in New York treatment organizations who are applying for grants to help with selecting and and implementing Electronic Health Records (EHRs). It’s slim pickins’ these days for government grants to help fund these efforts. Googling grants in this area, I found mostly some private foundations, and they can’t help everybody. This highlights the importance of including mental health and addictions treatment providers in programs like the HIT extension.
That said, EHRs continue to improve. The more expensive ones tend to be more configurable and cost more to implement than the less expensive ones. Generally speaking it’s like buying anything: software might work better if you pay a little more money and invest more effort into setting it up. Becoming a professional in this industry costs a lot in education, so they can be expensive to employ, even if the salary is a bargain in the eyes of a typical businessman. So, professionals and the organizations need the help bankrolling technology.
I look forward to hearing Patrick Kennedy speak again at the National Council Conference in Washington DC in early May. It should be a great conference, so if you’re a professional and plan to go, look for my name tag among the thousands, match it to my photo on this site, and say “Howdy”. My three-fold mission is to talk with a lot of vendors and discover all the new and wonderful technology that’s available, talk with some old friends whom I’ve helped with technology in the past, and make some new friends.