By Gina Macris
Therap Services of Waterbury, CT., a specialized information technology company, has won a contract worth $1,320,000 over three years, or $440,000 a year, to create an electronic case management system for the Rhode Island Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD).
The conversion to electronic records is expected to make record keeping much simpler for state social workers and private providers and to greatly improve data collection for the U.S. District Court. Through an independent monitor, the Court is tracking implementation of integrated, community-based services for adults with developmental disabilities under provisions of a 2014 consent decree enforcing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, which reinforces the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Kerri Zanchi, Director of Developmental Disabilities, could not say exactly how long the new system will take to roll out but estimated it might be 18 months to two years before it is fully implemented. Some parts of the system might be operational earlier, she said.
The electronic case management system will give state social workers and private service providers shared online access to the records of each client receiving federal and state-funded Medicaid services through the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH).
Zanchi said Therap also offers a module to give families access to records, “but what it does and how we’ll use it, we’re not there yet. I couldn’t speak to that today,” she said in an interview in mid-September. A family module would not cost the state additional money, according to a spokeswoman for Zanchi.
Zanchi said DDD wants to build an electronic record system that responds to current operations and consent decree requirements.
“Our (DDD) system is changing and as it is changing we need to be evaluating the outcomes,” she said.
There is a work group which includes both state social workers and private service providers to help identify “the specific data needs” that must be built into the electronic records system, she said.
Rebecca Boss, the BHDDH director, said that “as much as we can do to expedite this, we will. We want to have this up and running as soon as possible.”
The lack of adequate data has made it difficult for the U.S. Department of Justice and the consent decree monitor to evaluate the state’s implementation efforts. About a year ago, the state devised an method of working around the limitations of the existing 30-year-old data system that can respond to specific questions from the monitor or the DOJ, but not on a real-time basis.
This patchwork approach enlists data collected quarterly by the Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College.
Therap and seven other vendors submitted applications for the electronic records contract in the fall of 2016. Zanchi and Boss said the contract was awarded at the end of the summer.
Therap also holds an electronic records contract for the investigatory unit of BHDDH, which deals with complaints of neglect and abuse. That contract was awarded in 2016, but no other details were immediately available.
Therap’s website describes the company as the leading provider of electronic health records for people with intellectual disabilities, with customers in 50 states and foreign countries.
This article has been updated with additional details on the Therap contract and those working with Therap to roll out the system.