Applications Open for eHealth eQuality Incentive Program

The application period is now open for the eQuality Incentive Program (eQIP), a new program led by the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MeHI). eQIP will provide eligible behavioral healthcare provider organizations in Massachusetts with access to financial incentives for adopting health information technology such as electronic health records (EHRs).

eQIP is the first program launched under MeHI’s eHealth eQuality Initiative. The initial funds released under this program will target behavioral healthcare organizations. In early 2015, a second round of funding will follow to assist long-term and post-acute care provider organizations.

MeHI has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for behavioral healthcare organizations to apply for funding. Eligible organizations selected under eQIP will receive payments upon reaching key milestones in their adoption and implementation of health IT systems. Milestones range from early-stage adoption of an EHR system to secure data sharing over the state’s health information exchange, the Mass HIway. Individual incentive payments are tiered by organization size, and will range from approximately $5,000 to $30,000 each, with a maximum award of $85,000 for any one organization.

“Using health information technology, such as electronic health records and health information exchange, helps improve patient care coordination and contain costs,” said Laurance Stuntz, MeHI director. “For the behavioral health community, the adoption of interoperable EHRs will help them integrate with primary care by providing secure, up-to-date access to health records with the patient’s consent.”

MeHI’s recent survey of Massachusetts providers revealed that behavioral healthcare providers lag significantly behind other sectors in the adoption of health information technology, with an EHR adoption rate of approximately 55%. These provider communities are generally excluded from the federal Medicare/Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. The eHealth eQuality Initiative focuses on advancing the adoption, implementation and effective use of health IT systems among resource-constrained provider groups that have not been significantly supported by other investment programs.

The available funds stem from key investments made by the Commonwealth in Chapter 224, the 2012 healthcare cost containment law.

“The eQIP program is what we envisioned Chapter 224 producing: A technology-driven initiative which will help increase efficiency and cost savings in a critical practice area, behavioral health care,” stated Senate President Therese Murray. “For Massachusetts providers shut out from other incentive programs, this will offer much needed assistance to access these critical technology systems.”

Applications and eligibility information are available on the eQuality Incentive Program (eQIP) – Behavioral Health page on MeHI’s website. Future announcements will be made regarding funding to support long-term care and post-acute care provider organizations.