Puzzle pieces coming together

Washington's Behavioral Health Information System Project

The Department of Commerce was charged by the Washington State Legislature per Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1109 to coordinate the development of effective behavioral health housing options and provide technical assistance in siting behavioral health treatment facilities statewide.

Project Approach

Commerce understands that locally-driven approaches to building needed infrastructure in communities is critical to both short-and long-term success. That is why Commerce is co-developing a new tool that will allow the state, its partners and stakeholders, to collectively access information about behavioral health services and facilities to make strategic siting decisions and treatment capacity evaluations that address diverse needs across the state.

Commerce is proud to be partnering with the Departments of Health, Social and Health Services, and the Health Care Authority to collaboratively assess the development of a statewide behavioral health information system.

Commerce is performing outreach to community partners and stakeholders to seek input and feedback about this project, and to learn in-depth about the current resource and business development needs and challenges of local communities and providers.

Project Background

Washington’s behavioral health infrastructure is not meeting the needs of the people in the state. Major challenges faced by the state and local communities include workforce and facilities shortages. Service shortages coupled with supportive housing shortages in local communities leads to increased risks of patient boarding, homelessness and crime.

Under the Governor’s Behavioral Health Transformation Plan, the state made targeted investments to expand behavioral health infrastructure and modernize service delivery with the aim to increase access in local settings. The following represent changes to demand for community-based behavioral health services:

• Increases in the prevalence of behavioral health issues and substance abuse across the population
• Re-purposing of state-run hospitals to serve forensic-only patients and youth, including civilly-committed patients to be discharged from state hospitals by 2023, and those who are diverted thereafter
• New legal requirements that prohibit competency evaluations and fund medically-assisted treatment in jails
• A change to Medicaid-funded payments for and administration of behavioral health services across the state under new Integrated Managed Care plans as of January 2020

Resources about the behavioral health work of Commerce's partner agencies

How can I get more information about the project?

Contact Amber Siefer, Behavioral Health Siting Administrator, at Amber.Siefer@commerce.wa.gov

Need help?

Amber Siefer
Behavioral Health Siting Administrator

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