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January 23, 2024

NYS DOH, OMH, OASAS, and OPWDD Providers: Don't Overlook This Opportunity for Technology-Transformation Funding

There is much excitement in the health care community as a result of NYS Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget address—and with good cause. But there are already active opportunities for financial support, which have flown under the radar for some. One example that may have been overlooked is the NYS Department of Health’s (DOH) announcement of a new funding opportunity for many DOH providers as well as providers regulated by the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The grant program provides funds to support technological innovation and to advance health care transformation, and is an opportunity for many program types.1

A request for applications (RFA) titled Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program IV and V Health Information Technology, Cybersecurity, and Telehealth Transformation was released on January 2, 2024. More information is available on the New York State Grants Gateway page for its program.

Providers can develop proposals for capital, working capital, and noncapital projects. To be eligible, applications must involve projects in one or more of four specific categories identified in the RFA:

  1. Electronic Health Records 

Examples of projects include consolidating infrastructure, implementing clinical decision support, and/or improving revenue-cycle management or other systems that improve the efficiency of the health care organization and improve quality of care.

This may include improvements to IT infrastructure, the user experience, or other improvements that can lead to employee satisfaction or improve the patient experience. Any upgrading of systems should also include improvements to meet best practices in cybersecurity standards and include interoperability to systems with the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY) and data exchange partners.

  1. Cybersecurity

Examples of projects include improvements to the organization’s cybersecurity posture, including the implementation of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework, HIPAA requirements, and meeting Health Information Trust (HITRUST) Alliance certification requirements.

This could include improvements to technical infrastructure that supports security, implementation of security controls/policies/procedures to meet NIST requirements, and improvements to cybersecurity and confidentiality of data.

  1. Health Management Tools

Examples of projects include implementing applications that aggregate clinical and administrative data to support the provision of care, improve patient outcomes, and/or support participation of providers in value-based contracting.

Tools may support understanding/controlling total cost of care, identifying gaps in care to support improvements in quality and patient engagement. Tools may support remote patient monitoring to improve health outcomes.

  1. Telehealth

Examples of projects include implementation and improvement of telehealth applications that improve access to care or improve the provision of services. Projects of particular interest are those that improve access to care in regions/areas with limited providers/specialties (ex: pediatric behavioral health).

The grant program is designed to support projects that embrace and evolve emerging technology to improve access to health-related information for providers. This includes the sharing of data across the health care continuum; standardization of technology, data formats, and interoperability; and making it easier for the authorized sharing of information between providers and regulators. The program also specifically includes projects that advance, encourage, and refine the use of telehealth.

The New York State Grants Gateway guidance includes eligibility criteria for this opportunity. To receive funding, applicants must provide a description of how they will address each of the following program objectives to strengthen and expand access to health care services in communities:

  1. The extent to which the eligible project will maintain or improve the long-term financial sustainability of the eligible applicant
  2. The extent to which the eligible project impacts improved quality of care, patient outcomes, and patient experience for the population in the community or communities served by the eligible applicant
  3. The extent to which the eligible project contributes to the integration, preservation, or expansion of essential health care services in the community or communities served by the eligible applicant
  4. The relationship between the eligible project and an identified community need and the extent to which community engagement has helped shape the eligible project
  5. The extent to which the eligible project advances health equity
  6. The extent to which the eligible project benefits Medicaid or Medicare enrollees and uninsured individuals
  7. The extent to which the eligible applicant has limited access to alternative financing
  8. The extent to which the proposed activities and technology further advance access to and capability for:
    1. Electronic health records 
    2. Cybersecurity
    3. Health management tools
    4. Telehealth

Applicants are expected to develop proposals that comport with the core Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) and Medicaid 1115 Waiver goal of improving population health, patient outcomes, and patient experience and should demonstrate a sustainable business model that anticipates and plans for a transition to value-based payment structures. In addition, this is not a competitive procurement, and awards are discretionary. Applicants have no right to appeal if their application is denied or is approved at a lower than requested funding level.

Questions are due January 26, 2024, applications are due on March 13, 2024, and the anticipated award date is July 1, 2024

The timeframes here are pretty tight, and the application process requires the marshaling of a lot of information, documents, etc. Programs wishing to take advantage of this grant opportunity, but who are concerned about the quick turnaround, or the complexity of the application process should contact their counsel, or reach out to Barclay Damon, LLP, where a team of attorneys with experience in these types of RFAs can help you prepare your application. 

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Keith Brennan, of counsel, at kbrennan@barclaydamon.com, or another member of the firm’s Health & Human Services Providers Team.
                                                                                

1Program types include: hospitals; residential health care facilities; adult care facilities; diagnostic and treatment centers; clinics; children’s residential treatment facilities; assisted living programs; behavioral health; home care providers; primary care providers; hospices; community-based programs funded by OMH, OASAS, OPWDD, or through local governments; independent practice associations or organizations; residential facilities; day programs; and midwifery birth centers.
 

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