Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014.

In a recent Ohio Health Issues Poll, one in five adults living in Southeastern Indiana, reported that they had friends or family members who had experienced problems as a result of abusing prescription pain relievers. Additionally, one in four adults report binge drinking, higher than regional averages and national targets.  There is a need for new, innovative approaches to improve access, retention, and outcomes for substance use treatment.

The Behavioral Health Information Technology Enhancement (B-HITE) Initiative focuses on enhancing substance use services through the use of electronic decision support, implementation of evidence-based practices, and adoption of a mobile application.

Deborah Cohen is leading the evaluation of the project, which is targeting the services provided to adults involved in the justice and child welfare systems and who are served by a rural community mental health center in Southeastern Indiana.  The evaluation will focus on the use of electronic decision support, mobile application, and cross-system collaborations to improve substance-use treatment outcomes.

The project will significantly impact the lives of many individuals in a region hard hit by the national opioid epidemic. The information provided by the evaluation will help to inform the limited research available on effective behavioral health information technology.