As the opioid epidemic moves full steam ahead in New Jersey, the health records maintained on many addicts are stuck in the 20th century.

To support the efficiency of substance use disorder providers in the state, the New Jersey Department of Health and New Jersey Department of Human Services announced $6 million in funding for implementing electronic health records in behavioral health facilities, and setting up their connection to other providers on a statewide network.

"It's typical now for a substance use clinic patient to come in, having overdosed just the day before, and the physician, the nurse, whoever's taking care of them, wouldn't even know it," DOH Commissioner Shereef Elnahal told New Jersey 101.5.

In a recent survey sponsored by the state, approximately 60 percent of substance use disorder providers in New Jersey reported they either have no electronic health records in place — meaning they're working with paper, snail mail and fax machines — or they have an electronic system that isn't able to connect to broader networks.

"Prompt and secure exchange of health information among health care providers is key to delivering quality health care. For too long, there hasn't been the same focus and investment in technology capacity of substance use disorder treatment providers as there has been for other providers," DHS Commissioner Carole Johnson said in a news release.

Elnahal said the investment will target clinics with the biggest need. The money is expected to be dispersed over the next couple months, with installation occurring over the next year.

"I do think most patients expect information flow to be seamless," he said. "And we agree with that; we just need to meet it, and that's what this funding intends to do."

New Jersey Innovations Institute will be leading the project management and implementation, in partnership with New Jersey Association of Mental Health & Addiction Agencies.

On May 1, NJII will host a webinar for providers interested in participating.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.