CMS Announces Initiative to Improve Connectivity for Long-Term Care Facilities, Behavioral Health | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

CMS Announces Initiative to Improve Connectivity for Long-Term Care Facilities, Behavioral Health

March 2, 2016
by Heather Landi
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The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Wednesday it will permit states to request the 90 percent enhanced matching funds from CMS to help more Medicaid providers, such as long-term care, behavioral health providers and substance abuse treatment centers, connect to a health information exchange.

In a CMS blog post, Andy Slavitt, CMS Acting Administrator and Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, announced the initiative with the intention to “bring interoperable technology to a broader universe of healthcare providers, including long-term care, behavioral health providers, substance abuse treatment centers and other providers that have been slower to adopt technology.”

The initiative will help bridge an information sharing gap in Medicaid by connecting a broader variety of Medicaid providers to a health information exchange than those providers who are eligible for such connections today. The additional funding will enhance the sustainability of health information exchange and lead to increased connectivity among Medicaid providers, CMS said.

Slavitt mentioned the announcement Tuesday during a media briefing at the 2016 Annual HIMSS Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas.

In the blog post, Slavitt and DeSalvo said the announcement is another example of how Medicaid is leading change for its beneficiaries and throughout the health care system.

“But this is more than a technology initiative. It is part of a comprehensive effort to make sure that the 72 million adults, children, seniors and people with disabilities served by the Medicaid program have access to high quality, coordinated care. Improving population health and addressing the needs of complex populations requires strong health information technology tools,” they wrote.

Slavitt and DeSalvo also said they saw many benefits to the initiative, from care coordination to medication reconciliation to public health reporting. Exchanging care information can support patients with multiple chronic conditions as they navigate specialists, hospitals, primary care, home health care, and pharmacies, for example.

“This investment should also speed the adoption of alternative payment models that focus on the quality rather than the quantity of care provided. As the Medicaid program moves towards paying for quality, technology infrastructure and information exchange is needed for better care coordination. CMS and ONC look forward to partnering with and supporting states in these and other critical efforts to modernize and connect the Medicaid program for the millions of beneficiaries they serve,” Slavitt and DeSalvo wrote in the blog post.


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