State mental health authorities and informatics

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As state mental health authorities (SMHAs) attempt to promote evidence-based practices within their systems of care, they often ignore the enormous potential of information technology. Most of the tasks that Charles Rapp and colleagues have expertly identified in the preceding article can be addressed more efficiently with computerized approaches than with traditional approaches to education, implementation, training, and quality assurance. Because mental health lags behind the rest of medicine in instituting electronic medical records and related information technology, SMHAs often overlook the potential of informatics. In this article, we outline the advantages of using informatics to promote evidence-based practices, describe the current barriers to using informatics in this way, and suggest several strategies for SMHAs.