The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech, based in Westborough, Mass., has awarded more than $1.3 million in grants to 25 behavioral health providers for critical health IT enhancements. The awards were part of MeHI’s eQuality Incentive Program (eQIP), an initiative that provides health IT grants to both behavioral health and long-term/post-acute care organizations, which are not eligible for reimbursement under the federal meaningful use electronic health records program.
The behavioral health providers receiving grant awards, which were selected in two funding rounds, manage 179 facilities in 64 cities and towns across Massachusetts. According to a MeHI release, the grants will enable the behavioral health providers to advance the use of health IT in order to improve patient care, reduce healthcare costs and ensure appropriate privacy and security protection of behavioral health patient data. Through investments in technologies such as electronic health records and health information exchange, behavioral health providers can better communicate with other providers, treating the same individuals, for improved care management, the MeHI release stated.
“Integration of behavioral health care and medical care is a key priority for the Commonwealth, and MeHI’s investment in EHRs for behavioral health providers will help them share information with other healthcare providers,” Laurance Stuntz, director of MeHI, the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech, said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting these providers, learning from them, and continuing our support for technology that helps improve the quality of care delivered across the state in all healthcare settings.”
Organizations awarded through eQIP include behavioral healthcare facilities that provide direct care to patients with mental health or substance abuse issues.
“The eHealth eQuality Incentive Program comes at a key time in our agency’s growth,” Nina MacLean Robinson, contracts manager at Family Continuity, a non-profit mental health and social services agency with facilities in Eastern and Central Massachusetts. “This grant will help us to implement an Electronic Health Record, providing us with better clinical, financial, and operational oversight.”
In April 2015, MeHI made the first round of awards and granted almost $1 million to 18 providers statewide. In late October, MeHI finalized the second round of funding and seven additional providers received $363,000 in awards. These organizations manage 53 facilities in 28 cities and towns across the state.