Massachusetts eHealth Institute providing grants for broader electronic medical record use

November 6, 2014
Boston Business Journal

Jessica Bartlett    Reporter- Boston Business Journal

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute is offering $6.7 million in grants to behavioral health providers and long-term acute care facilities as a means of bolstering the groups' access to electronic medical records.

Providers throughout the commonwealth have been switching from paper forms to electronic records in droves thanks to federal incentives established in 2009.

Massachusetts eHealth Institute is a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a nonprofit advocacy group for the local tech community.

According to a survey done by MeHI this year, 96 percent of primary care practices and 86 percent of medical specialists practices in the state report that they have adopted the new technology.

Yet adoption for behavioral health providers, skilled nursing facilities and behavioral health hospitals – which largely don't qualify for federal incentives - remains low, with each subsector having an adoption rate of around 55 percent.

To bolster adoption for those groups, the Massachusetts eHealth Institute will offer incentives to behavioral health organizations this year. In 2015, a second round of funding will go to long-term and post-acute care organizations.

"With a little bit of guidance and support, the expertise on how to do something, (groups are readily integrating electronic medical records)," said Laurance Stuntz, the director for the Massachusetts eHealth Institute, which is a part of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. "There is not a huge barrier from their perspective other than time and money, but they are very interested."

The program will offer the grants in stages based on the adoption of electronic medical records. The payments will range from $5,000 to $30,000 each. No organization will receive more than $85,000.

Funds are available from the $225 million generated by state's 2012 health-cost containment law, which assessed fees on large health systems and commercial insurers.   

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