MA Behavioral Health Providers to Receive Nearly $1 Million to Advance Health IT Capabilities

MeHI_eHealthInstitute

Technology Investments Aim to Improve Patient Care and Reduce Cost; Second Round Launched to Engage Additional Providers Statewide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA CONTACT:
Brian Noyes, MassTech/MeHI
(508) 870-0312 X: 293
noyes@masstech.org

WESTBOROUGH, MA – April 9, 2015– MeHI, the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech, has announced the first round of grantees from the eQuality Incentive Program (eQIP) for behavioral health providers located across the Commonwealth. MeHI has awarded grants to 18 non-profits across the Commonwealth, which will total nearly $1 million if the awardees reach each of the program milestones. The funds will help these Massachusetts practices invest in innovative health information technologies, or health IT, to improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs, while ensuring appropriate privacy and security of behavioral health patient data.

The 18 Massachusetts behavioral healthcare organizations provide direct care to patients managing mental health or substance abuse issues. These organizations serve many of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable individuals, many of whom receive costly services from multiple providers across the care spectrum. By using health IT, such as electronic health records and health information exchange, behavioral health providers can better communicate with other providers treating these individuals, providing improved care management.

“The behavioral health organizations the Commonwealth is investing in with this grant program have chosen to lead the way in using technology to help provide integrated, high quality care to some of our most vulnerable residents,” stated Laurance Stuntz, Director of MeHI. ”We are excited to support these organizations and their communities through this grant program, learn from them and help develop best practices that can be applied to help behavioral health providers across the Commonwealth.”

The selected behavioral health provider organizations will receive payments upon reaching select milestones that demonstrate increasingly advanced use of health IT systems,  totaling up to $973,500 to the 18 providers.  Amounts each organization receives will vary depending on the size of the organization and their attainment of key milestones, with individual milestones ranging from $8,250 for small organizations to $20,625 for larger organizations, and maximum awards for each organization ranging from $33,000 to $82,500.

In the South Coast region, the following behavioral health organizations received grants under the eQIP program:

Organization                                                        City       Total Award

High Point Treatment Center                              New Bedford     $66,000

Child and Family Services, Inc.                           New Bedford     $49,500

Stanley Street Treatment & Resources, Inc.     Fall River           $49,500

Total                           $165,000

“The Health IT monies will help High Point Treatment Center to not only improve client access to care but enable us to share information more easily and faster with a client’s other providers,” noted High Point Treatment Center President and CEO Daniel Mumbauer. “Investing in technology like Health IT will ultimately help us also to reduce overall healthcare costs.”

“Child & Family Services is excited about the opportunities this grant will provide,” said Anne Sampaio, Executive Director of Child & Family Services. “When medical and behavioral health providers are able to share information and coordinate care, families will benefit greatly. Technology advances enabled by this grant will provide easier, more streamlined process for providers with the added benefit of moving more towards a paperless system.”

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, with the “expansion of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, it is estimated that one in six of the newly eligible Medicaid population will present indicators of behavioral health disorders,” which highlights the need for increased communication between behavioral health providers and other healthcare organizations. According to MeHI’s 2014 survey of Massachusetts providers, behavioral healthcare providers lag significantly behind other sectors in the adoption of health information technology, with an EHR adoption rate of approximately 55%.

“We are dedicated to ensuring the state’s most vulnerable residents receive the quality of care they deserve,” said the Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders. “This funding allows healthcare organizations to upgrade health information technology systems that are central to increasing patient access to appropriate behavioral health treatment in a timely and efficient manner.”

MeHI has also recently released the second round of eQIP grants for the behavioral health sector. In this new funding round, MeHI has expanded the eligibility criteria to engage smaller practices and to include ‘for-profit’ organizations. For a downloadable PDF version of the request for proposals, visit the MeHI procurement site at http://mehi.masstech.org/funding/apply-grant-funding.

The eQIP grants are funded via key investments made by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through Chapter 224, the 2012 healthcare cost containment law.

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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.