Mass. eHealth Institute gives $1.3M in grants to boost Mass HIway

August 29, 2013
Boston Business Journal

Four local companies working on health information technology are among 11 nationwide which will get grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 each to develop better ways to share health records electronically using the state’s system, called Mass HIway.

Boston’s eHana, ComChart of North Chelmsford, eClinical Works of Westborough and Willmington’s HealthWyse are among the recipients of a total of $1.3 million in grants from the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state’s organization for health care innovation, technology, and competitiveness.

The grant program, called the Mass HIway Vendor Interface Grant Program, supports the agency’s efforts to fund projects that advance the interoperability of electronic health records with the Commonwealth’s health information exchange. The program is the second phase of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute’s “Last Mile” program, an initiative born from 2012 Health Reform Legislation dedicated to grow the adoption of the Mass HIway, catalyze innovation and accelerate healthcare improvements.

Laurance Stuntz, director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute, told Mass High Tech that the goal of Last Mile program is to connect the state’s providers to the statewide Health Information Exchange. He said this vendor grant process is a major stepping stone to completion of this goal.

“We want to make it easy (so that) if a physician or their staff are making a referral, it is all recorded in the electronic health record,” Stuntz told Mass High Tech. “And by providing these grants, we are integrating the ability to send that referral electronically, securely, privately over the secure network to other physicians which increases the efficiency of that office workflow and also increases the security of the exchange of data.”

The open and competitive vendor granting process attracted some of the largest electronic health records vendors in Massachusetts, Stuntz added.

Awards were given to health IT vendors that support hospitals and health care organizations, with preference given to vendors in the electronic health record (EHR), clinical information system (CIS) and Care Management sectors that support physicians in small practices, long-term care, or in behavioral health settings.

Jacob Buckley-Fortin, CEO of eHana, told Mass High Tech in an email that his company will use the $150,000 grant “to design, implement, and test its communication with the HIway, and also to assist customers and partners in getting online and using the HIE to its fullest,” he said.

“The generous grant amount ensures we can take the HIE to the ‘Last Mile’ and deploy, train, and support our customers in its use,” Buckley-Fortin said.

Health IT companies are working with individual physicians and physicians groups, community health centers, medical specialists such as orthopedists and pediatricians, visiting nurse associations and home health care providers to get them onto the Mass HIway. Specifically, MEDfx is working with Mashpee Family Medicine in Mashpee; Aprima, based in Texas, is working with Dr. Elise Jacques, MD of Worcester, MA; and North Chelmsford-based ComChart works with Shawsheen Medical Associates of Andover, to name a few. These Massachusetts-based providers will work with and reap the benefits of working with vendor interface grant program recipients.

“These grants will greatly expand the types of organizations that are able to participate in the smooth exchange of healthcare data using the HIE. Traditionally Health IT innovation has focused on doctors and hospitals, ignoring the critical social safety net and specialty providers that work daily with our most expensive heatlhcare consumers,” Buckley-Fortin said. “The grant will enable more inclusive and effective collaboration between a broader range of providers, improving quality and reducing costs.”

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