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  • Writer's pictureMuhammad Sair Khan

How-to Get Your Behavioral Health Facility IMS Certified



Why Your Facility Should Seek Certification


Beginning in 2016, residential detox facilities were given the option to apply for IMS (incidental medical services) certification. Now, certified centers are allowed to perform and bill for medical services that prior to 2016, had to be completed in an off-site medical setting. This has given treatment centers the opportunity to provide their patients with more a more comprehensive service.



Achieving approval and certification from DHCS can make a difference in quality of care you can give your patients. It will now, also affect your bottom line. Some private insurers are threatening to only approve and pay for treatment if you have achieved the certification, limiting the reimbursement and referrals you will see from those insurers. Currently, only 165 facilities have achieved certification, meaning that hundreds of facilities across the state will be impacted. The Addiction Treatment Advocacy Coalition (ATAC) is one organization who’s addressing this issue directly.


Providing medically related services without certification may result in disciplinary action from the DCHS.

How to Apply for Certification


The application process can take three to five months, so it is important to be prepared. You need comprehensive documentation to achieve certification, including:

  • Initial Treatment Provider Application (DHCS 6002) or Supplemental Application (DHCS 5255)

  • Fee (MHSUD Information Notice No: 14-022)

  • Fire clearance form STD 850 (if applicable)

  • Floor plan

  • Facility Staffing Data (DHCS 5050), including all facility staff who provide or oversee IMS

  • Job description for each staff position at the facility

  • Health Care Practitioner (HCP) Incidental Medical Services Acknowledgement (DHCS 5256) for all HCP’s who provide or oversee IMS

  • Copy of all HCP’s valid license to practice in California and proof of addiction medicine training

  • Organizational Chart, including all facility staff

  • Services and Activities – written description, including IMS

  • Program description, including IMS

  • Admission, Readmission, and Intake Criteria, including IMS

  • Admission Agreement, including IMS

  • Detoxification Services (if applicable) – Policies and procedures, including IMS

  • Medication Policy – Policy, procedures, and tasks for all forms of prescribed and over-the-counter medications

  • Incidental Medical Services (IMS) - Policies, procedures, and tasks for IMS.

The most important aspect of the application is your process manual for providing IMS. Without proper procedures outlined in your application, your certification may denied or delayed.


By having a complete application ready to go, you can speed up the application process. If you are missing any parts of your application, you’ll have 30 days to supply them before your application is denied.


Once you are approved, you must offer IMS, giving you the opportunity to provide more comprehensive care to all of your patients. You may also receive higher reimbursement from private payers and attract more attention from patients seeking treatment.



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