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$2.7 million in grants awarded for health care
By Chris Barnett / December 1, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $2.7 million in grants from its Fund for a Healthy Rhode Island to improve the quality and affordability of health care in Rhode Island.

“Quality, affordable primary care is one of our priorities. Our goal is to test models that have the potential to be scaled up. By encouraging imaginative thinking around delivery and administration, we can ensure Rhode Islanders will continue to have access to the health care they need,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

Sharing $2.1 million in grants were five initiatives focusing on testing payment models that integrate and align incentives to address public health, social services and behavioral health; encouraging collaboration and testing safety-net provider participation in payment reform.

“It’s easier to make it in Rhode Island when you have high-quality, affordable health care,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts. “The varied and innovative programs receiving this new funding strongly reflect the direction the state is heading as we work to build a better, more sustainable health care system in Rhode Island. Congratulations to all the grantees—we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this important work.”

Blackstone Valley Community Health Care (BVCHC) received $200,000 to develop a community health record program in partnership with TriTown Health Center, Memorial Hospital of R.I. and Women's Care.

The goal is to assemble a medical neighborhood team that will benefit from enhanced data sharing on patients common to several area practices, a team whose primary purpose is to improve population health, improve quality of health care and reduce overall cost of care, especially for high-risk patients.

“We look forward to that day in the near future when all medical partners in the community health record project will have enhanced ability to care for patients of Pawtucket, Central Falls and Johnston,“ said Raymond J. Lavoie, BVCHC’s executive director.

Care New England Health Care System received $520,000 to develop a Medicaid Accountable Care Organization (ACO) that will more effectively manage the physical and behavioral health of Medicaid patients in Rhode Island. Working with Integra Community Care Network, Care New England will establish a Medicaid ACO in partnership with Rhode Island Primary Care Physicians Corporation (RIPCPC), South County Hospital, federally qualified health centers, the Rhode Island Medicaid office, the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and other partners to establish the required infrastructure to coordinate care for Medicaid patients, particularly those with multiple comorbid conditions.

"This project will play a significant role in improving the coordination, integration and value of physical and behavioral health care services for thousands of Medicaid recipients throughout Rhode Island. This is a timely initiative that directly addresses the state's focus on ensuring access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries while curbing rising per-capita Medicaid costs. We look forward to working with the Rhode Island Foundation as well as our partners to undertake this effort," said Dennis D. Keefe, president and CEO of Care New England.

The Care Transformation Collaborative (CTC) received $600,000 to launch an integrated behavioral health program, which will add a behavioral health clinician to the primary care practice team.

Among the goals are identifying more patients with behavioral health and substance-use disorder, increasing services to patients with moderate depression, anxiety, substance-use disorders and co-occurring chronic conditions; and reducing emergency room visits by providing care coordination and intervention for high-risk patients with high utilization rates.

"We now have the resources needed to truly integrate behavioral health into the primary care setting," said Debra Hurwitz, MBA, BSN, RN, co-Director of CTC.

"Oftentimes, patients with unidentified behavioral health conditions experience safety risks, avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalizations, and hindrance to their quality of life. By adding a behavioral health clinician to the primary care team, we can move toward universal screening for depression, anxiety and substance use disorders, and offer more robust behavioral health services in a comfortable and accessible setting. This new care element gives our Collaborative momentum toward improving primary care and reducing health care costs for all Rhode Islanders," she said.

The Rhode Island Health Center Association (RIHCA) received $300,000 to research developing the state's first Medicaid primary care-led partnership for accountable care. The initiative is designed to improve care coordination and delivery by holding providers financially accountable for the health of their patients.

“The project will ultimately lead to a focus on population health which will lead to decreased costs and better health outcomes for patients and communities,” said Jane Hayward, RIHCA’s president and CEO.

The Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI) received $500,000 to enable primary care physicians to share information regarding hospital use by high-risk patients. Among the goals is to reduce hospital admissions, readmissions and emergency department returns within 30 days.

“RIQI is very pleased to be serving up near-real time, actionable information to physicians and care managers so that they can quickly identify those patients with the most urgent need for care and support and who will reap the greatest benefit from timely intervention,” said Laura Adams, President and CEO, Rhode Island Quality Institute.

In addition, $600,000 is earmarked for continuing a loan forgiveness program for primary care providers practicing in medically underserved areas of Rhode Island.

This is the third time the Foundation has made awards through its FFHRI. The inaugural round of grants awarded $1.6 million to eight projects in 2009. Seven proposals received $1.8 million in 2012.

That work developed new approaches to making primary care services more accessible such as extending hours, opening satellite locations, increasing more affordable access to medications and developing outreach approaches that enabled more Rhode Islanders to receive medical care.

In addition to health, the Foundation targets six other sectors including arts and culture, children and families, education, economic security, environment and housing. Through its grant programs, the Foundation invests in organizations and programs that strive for long-term solutions to significant community issues.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2014, the Foundation awarded $34.8 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
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