The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) has awarded $3 million in grants to drive community-level collaboration among healthcare providers using innovative technologies, such as electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchanges.
The grants were awarded to seven Massachusetts healthcare organizations working with a total of 78 partner organizations as part of MeHI’s Connected Communities Implementation Grant program. Each organization was awarded $434,000 to support collaborative projects.
Each project involves four or more organizations in a specific region, such as hospitals, physician groups, home health agencies, civic and municipal organizations, and at least one behavioral health and/or long term and post-acute care organization. Per the terms of the grant program, each project is required to address practical, measurable healthcare needs among the awarded organization’s patient population, according to an announcement from MeHI.
“By using technology to strengthen local ties, these grantees and their collaborators will be better prepared to address the critical healthcare challenges impacting Massachusetts, including combating the opioid crisis, avoiding unnecessary or recurring readmissions, and preventing adverse drug events,” Laurance Stuntz, MeHI’s director, said in a statement.
The seven organizations that will manage grants within their respective regions include Behavioral Health Network, Berkshire Medical Center, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, Cape Cod Healthcare, Lowell General PHO, Reliant Medical Center and Whittier Independent Practice Association (IPA).
As an example of a Connected Communities grant project, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC) is focused on coordinating care for patients with substance use disorders across various providers through the adoption of current health information technologies.
“This project will allow BNHC and its collaborating partners (High Point Treatment Center, Brockton Area Multi-Services, Inc., Signature Healthcare, and Good Samaritan Medical Center) to make positive changes in a region hit hard by the opioid crisis. By streamlining coordination and planning of care among a patient’s providers, no matter where the providers are located, this project will allow better treatment to be delivered to patients battling substance abuse,” MeHI stated in a press release.
“We are collaborating to eliminate gaps in the care continuum for people suffering from opioid and other addictions,” Sue Joss, CEO of BNHC, said in a statement. “By using technology to enhance communication and referrals across multiple care providers, we will increase access to services for people seeking recovery.”
The Connected Communities program is designed to build upon and complement Commonwealth-supported programs across many state agencies, both those managed by MeHI and by partner state organizations.
According to MeHI, the Connected Communities program aligns with MeHI’s charge to engage the healthcare community and catalyze the development, adoption, and effective use of digital healthcare. In particular, the program supports provider organizations that typically lack access to the necessary resources needed to implement health technology, such as behavioral health and long-term post-acute care organizations. The program provides incentives to assist eligible organizations and their community collaborators in the advanced use of interoperable EHRs to enable access to timely, clinically relevant information to improve two aspects of care coordination—transitions between different settings of care and cross-setting care management among inter-organizational care team members.
The Connected Communities grants are funded via key investments made by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through Chapter 224, the 2012 healthcare cost containment law.