Docs and TechMichigan Center for Effective IT Adoption (M-CEITA)

Altarum Institute leads the state of Michigan’s Regional Extension Center (REC) which provides education, outreach, and technical assistance to the state’s 17,000 primary care providers and 36 critical access hospitals in pursuit of the Meaningful Use of health information technology (IT). 

This program is funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).  As the eigth largest REC in the country and one of the most successful, M-CEITA is changing the paradigm of primary care delivery in Michigan and is well-positioned to offer technical assistance to advance other evolving Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements. 

The M-CEITA team is also currently supporting Michigan Medicaid by providing health IT adoption support directly to Specialists across the state that meet Medicaid incentive thresholds.

For more information, visit the Center’s website at http://www.mceita.org

Altarum Leverages Gift from Kresge to Bring Better Health Care to Michigan

To a small physician practice in rural Michigan, the world of electronic health records (EHR) can be daunting. Doctors are experts on the health of their patients and usually not experts in hardware configuration, software contract negotiations, and redesigning practice workflows to capitalize on technology. 

Altarum Institute’s Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption (M-CEITA), funded with grants from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and The Kresge Foundation, makes EHRs accessible to primary care physicians around the state by helping those offices select, adopt, and implement EHR systems. M-CEITA staff provide physician practices with extensive resources to evaluate options and the technical expertise to ‘effectively’ modernize offices. In addition to direct benefits to providers and their patients, this effort will also bring up to $200 million in federal incentive payments to Michigan providers.

M-CEITA is partnering with many Federally Qualified Health Care providers, rural practices, and critical access hospitals over the next four years to guide them to “meaningful use” of EHRs. Meaningful use opens up federal incentive payments to practices and is based on the use of certified technology and the electronic exchange of patient records. Health Specialists of Lenawee, in rural Tecumseh, Michigan, was the first to reach that standard. Eventually more than 3,700 providers will reach meaningful use through M-CEITA.

Meaningfully using an EHR means more time for doctors to focus on their patients. “We’re working with small community doctors that are being squeezed from every direction,” says Matt Monroe, a health analyst at Altarum. “Effectively using an EHR reduces medical errors and enhances clinical decision-making.” It can also help underserved patients navigate the health care system.  Information brings better diagnoses and improved population-based care, often keeping patients from needing to use the costly emergency room.

The Kresge Foundation contributed $1 million to the project as part of the Foundation’s efforts to increase access to health care and improve the quality of health care services for low-income and vulnerable populations. “This program would not have been possible without the strong support of Kresge,” says Dan Armijo, program director. Kresge’s funding was able to enhance the M-CEITA program by adding:

  • The ability to provide service to offices that fall through the cracks in the federal program;
  • The resources to thoroughly develop the program offerings, negotiate with vendors, and recruit unaffiliated practices without access to technical resources; and
  • The ability to offer reduced or waived fees for organizations providing care in underserved rural or urban areas.

The Health Department of Ionia County, Michigan, a rural county southeast of Grand Rapids, directly benefited from Kresge’s generosity. The county health department doesn’t have its own doctor, having to share one with a neighboring county. Because of this, they did not qualify for support from the federal program. Kresge funding allowed M-CEITA to provide support that benefits Ionia’s patients and families. The county health department is one of 238 sites working with primarily underserved populations.

Assessing Readiness, Achievement & Impact of Stage 3 Meaningful Use Care Coordination Criteria

Altarum Institute and The University of Michigan (U of M) are collaborating on a  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded study that will generate evidence on the current readiness of ambulatory medical practices to meet proposed Meaningful Use Stage 3 criteria related to care coordination. This rapid-cycle research project will provide timely feedback to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (HIT) to inform the final Stage 3 Meaningful Use criteria.

The partnership between the U of M and Altarum taps into the extensive expertise of U of M researchers in health information exchange and health information technology (IT) policy, along with Altarum’s expertise in meaningful use and the optimization of health IT in ambulatory settings, as well as the close relationships Altarum has developed with providers and practices through operating the Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption (M-CEITA), Michigan’s Regional Extension Center for health IT adoption.

The study will look at the factors that help or hinder Meaningful Use and the effect that achieving Meaningful Use has on the coordination of care.   The study will also look at practice-led and policy-driven strategies that increase the extent to which electronic health record (EHR) use and participation in health information exchange result in well-coordinated care.

For this assessment, we are conducting a mixed-methods study that includes a statewide survey of primary care practices in Michigan that have reached to Stage 1 Meaningful Use. The survey results will be complemented by qualitative and quantitative analyses of the experience of 15 primary care practices who are implementing Stage 3 care coordination measures and perceived impact on care coordination.

Our findings will guide practices on optimal strategies for using EHRs and electronic health information exchange to improve care coordination and help to ensure that final Stage 3 care coordination criteria are evidence-based and include targets that are achievable and impactful.