Program Aims to Improve Care for Patients Transitioning Between Massachusetts Facilities via Increased Use of Health IT
WESTBOROUGH, MA –The application period is now open for a new Request for Proposals from MeHI, the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech, to increase the effective use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in the Long-Term and Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) sector. As part of eQIP, MeHI’s eQuality Incentive Program, awarded funds will assist eligible LTPAC providers in Massachusetts with adopting health information technology. Through the installation of these technologies, the Commonwealth aims to improve the efficiency, cost, and quality of patient care in this critical healthcare sector.
MeHI’s 2014 survey revealed that independent behavioral health and LTPAC providers in the Commonwealth lag significantly behind other sectors in the adoption of Health IT, with an EHR adoption rate of approximately 50 percent and 35 percent respectively, compared to 90 percent-plus for Massachusetts primary care providers. The eQIP program stems from Chapter 224, the state’s 2012 healthcare cost containment law, which recognized the need to support healthcare providers with the adoption of Health IT. Health IT facilitates the secure sharing of vital information, helping avoid drug interactions, and improving the continuum of care for patients.
“Care coordination is critical to maximize patient outcomes and experience,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services. “Electronic health records are one important tool in the healthcare tool kit and must be extended to the long term care community.”
LTPAC organizations eligible for this program include those that provide the most intensive levels of clinical care: Massachusetts Department of Public Health licensed Level I and Level II intensive nursing and rehabilitative care facilities, and skilled-nursing facilities.
“Long-term and post-acute care organizations play a critical role in a patient’s care, as they transition from an acute hospital setting to a skilled treatment center such as a skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation hospital,” stated Laurance Stuntz, Director of MeHI. “As patients transition, use of EHRs and health information exchanges like the Mass HIway will help increase communication between their care providers and help limit redundant procedures like X-rays or blood work.”
Funding to grantees will be tiered by organization size, and the grants will range from $33,000 to $82,500 each, provided all milestones are met. MeHI will award participants with up to four incentive payments over a two-year period as awardees achieve successive milestones. Milestones range from early-stage adoption of an EHR system to secure data sharing over the state’s health information exchange, the Mass HIway.
"Since nursing facilities were restricted from accessing the federal HIT "Meaningful Use" funding that other health care providers received, these state grants are critical in providing the Commonwealth's nursing homes with the initial resources needed to make investments in electronic health records, which will ultimately lead to improved patient care and greater efficiencies for the health care system,” said Ned Morse, President of Massachusetts Senior Care Association. “We greatly appreciate the Legislature and MeHI's leadership in recognizing the need to invest in technology for post-acute care."
Applications are due April 2, 2015. Interested applicants can find key program deadlines and eligibility requirements online at mehi.masstech.org/funding.
“We are so pleased that MeHI recognizes the critical role that LTPAC providers play in the overall health care system, and that they are providing some much needed resources to support our members’ efforts at adopting electronic health records,” said Elissa Sherman, President of LeadingAge Massachusetts, a trade association representing not-for-profit providers of housing and health care for older persons.
In total, MeHI has allocated $6.7 million to the eQIP program, distributed across multiple funding rounds. The aim is to issue approximately 100 grants to behavioral health and LTPAC organizations across Massachusetts, but as grant amounts increase with organization size, the actual number will depend on the mix of organizations that apply. A previous round launched in October 2014 targeted support for the Commonwealth’s behavioral health providers. Future program rounds will be issued for both sectors as funds are available.
About the Massachusetts eHealth Institute:
MeHI, or the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, is the state's entity for healthcare innovation, technology, and competitiveness and is responsible for advancing the dissemination of health information technology throughout Massachusetts, including the deployment of electronic health records systems in healthcare provider settings and connecting them through the Mass HIway, the statewide health information exchange. For more information, please visit http://mehi.masstech.org and follow @MassEHealth.
Brian Noyes, MassTech/MeHI
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