MeHI's Connected Communities Program catalyzed collaboration and advanced the adoption and use of Health IT to improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs.
While all hospitals, all large provider groups, and the overwhelming majority of other providers use Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems (based on MeHI's data collection research), adoption of health information exchange to coordinate care across providers has not yet become mainstream. There are many reasons for this, including inconsistent implementation of exchange standards by EHR vendors and the lack of a well-defined business model to encourage providers to prioritize health information exchange.
From their vantage point, patients want better health care and need providers to be connected with other providers within their community of care. Patients benefit when care providers share their health data to build a more complete profile of their health status, as this improves decision making and cohesive care delivery. To build on the advanced merits of Health IT and achieve the Triple Aim, our Connected Communities program encourages providers to work together to develop coordinated strategies, processes and workflows that leverage the eHealth capabilities of their community.
Through this program, MeHI collaborated with a diverse set of community stakeholders to inform the development of Community e-Health Assessments, which identified the Health IT needs and priorities of healthcare communities across the state. Communities then had the opportunity to address these needs and priorities through MeHI's Connected Communities Implementation Grant (see below).
Through interviews and roundtables, the eHealth Community Managers gathered input from participants centered on four domains: clinical/business needs, internal challenges, external barriers, and ideas for improvement. Responses were collected, codified into categories, and ranked by the frequency of response.
MeHI held roundtable meetings in each community to present and discuss the findings. Through group dialogue, top categories and themes evolved. Based on the roundtable feedback, we ranked the categories to identify eHealth priorities for Community eHealth Plans.The goal was to develop actionable plans that show value for each community.
Navigate the map, by selecting a region, to discover your designated eHealth Community Manager, access the needs assessment reports and other area Health IT information.
The Community eHealth Plans were then integrated into a grant program to align community plans and grants. The Connected Communities Implementation Grant Program was launched in May 2015.
The Connected Communities Implementation Grant
In Spring 2016, MeHI announced $3M in grants to eight healthcare organizations working with 78 partner organizations. The grants were made through MeHI’s Connected Communities Implementation Grant program, a statewide effort which seeks to enhance collaboration and communication among healthcare providers within a community through the use of innovative technologies, electronic health records and health information exchanges.
The Connected Communities Implementation Grant program was designed to support organizations in demonstrating community collaboration using health IT to address real-world, practical and measurable healthcare needs among the patients they serve and to improve care coordination.