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CMS awards millions to tech-driven care improvement projects


By Joseph Conn
Posted: May 23, 2014 - 12:45 pm ET
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Innovation is in the name of the initiative—the Healthcare Innovation Awards to be exact—but health information technology will be at the core of many of the 12 programs sharing in $109 million in federal grants the CMS announced Thursday.

Health information technology is “an integral part,” of many of the grant-winning initiatives, said Sheila Hanley, director of the policy and programs group at the CMS, at a media briefing announcing the second round of this year's awards.

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For example, the grants include $7.1 million to the Association of American Medical Colleges for its program of e-consults that is creating consensus-driven, electronic communication templates for referrals between primary-care physicians and their colleagues in 12 medical specialties. The program also will develop an electronic platform for clinical consultations.

Another grantee, the Regents of the University of California San Francisco, was awarded nearly $10 million to team up with the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop a tech-powered “dementia care ecosystem.” The system includes a 24/7 patient-monitoring dashboard and “smartphones and sensors to rapidly detect and respond to changes” in a patient's functional status, information that is “particularly important for patients living remotely, alone, or who are at-risk for acute declines.”

The CMS also announced funding for a second round of grants for state innovation models, splitting $730 million “to help states design and test improvements to their public and private healthcare payment and delivery systems.”

One of those states is Vermont, which received $45 million to be spent across 42 months to create and implement outcomes-based payment models statewide as well as deploy the technical infrastructure to support them. Those health information exchange functions and components include improvements to participants' clinical and claims data transmission, integration, analytics, and modeling capabilities and enhanced telemedicine and home monitoring systems.

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn


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