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New Funds Support Rural Hospitals’ Switch to Electronic Health Records

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced nearly $20 million in new technical support assistance to help critical access and rural hospital facilities convert from paper-based medical records to certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Some 1,655 critical access and rural hospitals in 41 states and the nationwide Indian Country, headquartered in the District of Columbia, stand to benefit from this assistance, which can help each of them qualify for substantial EHR incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid.

"The benefits of health information technology can be especially important for patients and clinicians in small and rural health care facilities, yet these facilities face high hurdles as they look toward joining in the transition to electronic information"

"The benefits of health information technology can be especially important for patients and clinicians in small and rural health care facilities, yet these facilities face high hurdles as they look toward joining in the transition to electronic information," Secretary Sebelius said. "The funding we are announcing today is a new category of support, aimed specifically at assisting critical access and rural hospitals with their particular needs and challenges. This new funding is added to the substantial base we have already built to provide assistance to health care providers throughout the country as they transition to EHRs."

The new funding is provided under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The HITECH Act created the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs, which will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals that adopt and demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Incentives totaling as much as $27.4 billion over 10 years could be expended under the program, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In addition, the HITECH Act provided $2 billion through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to support technical assistance, training, and demonstration projects to assist in the nation's transition to EHRs.

The funding announced today comes through one of the ONC programs, the Regional Extension Centers (RECs). RECs offer technical assistance, guidance, and information on best practices to support and accelerate health care providers' efforts to become meaningful users of certified EHRs under the Medicare and Medicaid incentives programs. A total of 60 RECs are located throughout the country.

Today's funding is being awarded to 46 of the RECs, serving providers in 41 states and the nationwide Indian Country. A total of 1,655 critical access and rural hospitals are in the areas covered by these RECs. The funding is part of the Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Hospitals (CAH/Rural Hospital) Project, a priority for the REC program. The intent of the project is to provide additional technical support to critical access and rural hospitals with fewer than 50 beds in selecting and implementing EHR systems primarily within the outpatient setting.

"Regional Extension Centers are poised to provide the hands-on, field support needed by health care providers to advance the rapid adoption and use of health IT," said David Blumenthal, M.D., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "The added level of support we are announcing today will enable the RECs to offer greater field support to these communities as they deal with the financial and workforce constraints, and work to achieve access to broadband connectivity and to overcome other barriers that critical access hospitals and other rural hospitals may confront."

RECs provide a resource for technical assistance, guidance, and information to local health care providers on best practices around EHR adoption and meaningful use. RECs are designed to address unique community requirements and to support and accelerate provider efforts to become meaningful users of certified EHR technology. Today's round of awards builds on the funding that RECs are already receiving under the HITECH Act, bringing the total amount of funding awarded to date to support the efforts of RECs to over $663 million.

The awards announced today are:




Regional Extension Center (REC) REC State Coverage Award Amount Alaska eHealth Network Alaska $ 168,000 Alabama Regional Extension Center Alabama $ 432,000 HIT Arkansas Arkansas $ 420,000 Arizona Health-e Connection (AzHeC) Arizona $ 240,000 California Regional Extension Center (North) - CalHIPSO (North) California $ 336,000 California Regional Extension Center (South) - CalHIPSO (South) California $ 180,000 Colorado Regional Extension Center (CORHIO) Colorado $ 456,000 National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Serving the nationwide Indian Country, headquartered in the District of Columbia $ 312,000 Rural and North Florida Regional Extension Center Florida $ 168,000 South Florida Regional Extension Center Collaborative Florida $ 36,000 Hawaii Health Information Exchange Hawaii $ 144,000 IFMC Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (Iowa HITREC) Iowa $ 1,044,000 Illinois Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (IL-HITREC) Illinois $ 720,000 Purdue University Indiana $ 396,000 Kansas Foundation for Medical Care, Inc. (KFMC) Kansas $ 1,140,000 University of Kentucky Research Foundation Kentucky $ 360,000 Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum Louisiana $ 768,000 Massachusetts Technology Corporation Massachusetts $ 132,000 HealthInfoNet Maine $ 264,000 Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption (M-CEITA) Michigan $ 432,000 Regional Extension Assistance Center for Health Information Technology (REACH) Minnesota North Dakota

$ 1,488,000 Missouri HIT Assistance Center Missouri $ 660,000 Regional Extension Center for Health Information Technology in Mississippi Mississippi $ 540,000 Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation (MPQHF) Montana Wyoming

$ 816,000 Wide River Technology Extension Center Nebraska $ 120,000 LCF Research New Mexico $ 204,000 New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) New York $ 120,000 Health Bridge Inc. Ohio $ 288,000 Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP) Ohio $ 516,000 Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality (OFMQ) Oklahoma $ 744,000 O-HITEC. Oregon $ 384,000 Quality Insights of Pennsylvania, Inc. (East) Pennsylvania $ 180,000 Quality Insights of Pennsylvania, Inc. (West) Pennsylvania

$ 144,000 South Carolina Research Foundation South Carolina $ 156,000 South Dakota Regional Extension Center (SD-REC) South Dakota $ 576,000 Qsource Tennessee $ 480,000 North Texas REC Texas $ 108,000 West Texas Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (WT-HITREC) Texas $ 912,000 CentrEast Regional Extension Center Texas $ 384,000 University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Texas $ 612,000 Health Insight Utah Nevada

$ 480,000 VHQC (Virginia Health Quality Center) Virginia $ 84,000 Vermont Information Technology Leaders Vermont $ 108,000 WI-REC Washington $ 564,000 Wisconsin Health Information Technology Extension Center Wisconsin $ 828,000 West Virginia Health Improvement West Virginia

$ 204,000

TOTAL ALL



AWARDS
$ 19,848,000



A complete listing of REC grant recipients and additional information about the Health Information Technology Regional Extension Centers may be found at http://www.HealthIT.hhs.gov/programs/REC/.

For information about the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, see http://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms.

For information about HHS Recovery Act Health Information Technology programs, see http://www.hhs.gov/recovery/announcements/by_topic.html#hit.

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.

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