CMS spending $1 billion on healthcare innovation projects

By Mary Mosquera
11:04 AM

Many of the 81 healthcare organizations receiving the latest federal grants for innovative projects will use health IT to collect and share data to better coordinate, analyze and deliver care, including for transitional care for rural patients, school health programs for teenagers and registries for high-risk patients in urban communities.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center announced June 15 the second and final batch of awardees for the Health Care Innovation Awards, bringing to 107 the number of projects designed to improve care for individuals enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), particularly those with the most complex and pressing needs.

CMS is spending up to $1 billion on all the pioneering projects, which the agency estimates will save $1.9 billion in healthcare costs over the three years of the grants. Individual awards range from $1 million to $30 million. CMS rolled out the first batch of 26 projects in May.

For example, the University of Hawaii at Hilo is developing the Pharm2Pharm system, which will use health IT to increase communications between the various pharmacists providing care from the time a patient is admitted or discharged from a hospital. It will be aimed at Hawaii residents in the three rural island counties of Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii.

The system establishes hospital pharmacists as key members of a medical care team, giving them better access to find discrepancies and to take charge of medication management after hospital stays, according to Dr. Karen Pellegrin, director for the Center for Rural Health Science in the university’s College of Pharmacy.

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“We can increase the chances of patients staying healthy after a hospital visit by raising the visibility and effectiveness of both community and hospital pharmacists as members of a healthcare team,” she said in an announcement, adding that advancing the role of the community pharmacists should lower medication-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits in rural Hawaii.

CMS awarded grants to projects across all states, including:

• Bronx Regional Health Information Organization, N.Y., with its healthcare partners will create an informatics center to develop data registries and predictive systems to encourage early care interventions and better manage high-risk patients

• University of Iowa and 11 hospitals will target patients with psychiatric disorders, heart or kidney diseases, cancer and other complex illnesses with healthcare teams using tele-health and Web-based personal health records to increase access to care and coordination

• University of Miami, Fla., will improve care for children in four pilot communities in Miami-Dade county through enhanced use and sharing of health IT among community health workers, dental hygienists and expansion of school-based clinics, and focusing on asthma, diabetes, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases

• Christiania Care Health Services, Del., will develop and test a system that uses a heart disease data hub and case managers to improve elderly and low-income heart patients, integrating lab and test data from the statewide health information exchange with cardiac care registries from the American College of Cardiology and Society of Thoracic Surgeons.