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2/16/2010
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Feds Award Virginia $24M For Health IT

The funding will help the state coordinate health IT initiatives and assist physicians in setting up electronic health records.

Virginia has been awarded $24 million in federal funding to boost its health information technology effort.

The state plans to use $11.6 million of the money over the next four years to coordinate health IT initiatives across the state through the formation of an Office of Health Information Technology. Virginia expects to finish the planning process in the fall and then to phase-in implementation.

The remainder of the award is expected to be spent over the next two years to help physicians create electronic health records. The effort will be led by the Virginia Health Quality Center, in partnership with the Center for Innovation Technologies, a Virginia nonprofit organization that conducts research and development in technology and provides funding and other support for startups. The Medical Society of Virginia is also involved in the effort.

"The federal funding awarded to Virginia will allow us to develop an information technology system that will safeguard our ability to track health records and provide our physicians with the technological tools they need to provide the highest quality service possible," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement released Monday.

Virginia was awarded the funding through the office of U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

The U.S. government for six years has been developing the Nationwide Health Information Network, a network of regional health information networks to enable secure sharing of patient data. The goal of the NHIN, however, has been modified recently to get more healthcare providers sharing data, even it's just with practitioners in their immediate vicinity.

The Obama administration this month announced almost $1 billion in health IT funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. More than $750 million of the money will be used to spread the "meaningful use" of health IT via grants for health information exchanges and regional extension centers. The remainder will be spent on health IT training.

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