HHS Awards $83.9 Million For EHR - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Electronic Health Records

HHS Awards $83.9 Million For EHR

Funds are meant to accelerate the adoption of electronic health records among health centers serving low-income and individuals.

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced grants totaling $83.9 million to help networks of health centers accelerate the adoption of electronic health records and other health information technology.

The funds are part of the $2 billion that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 earmarked to HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand healthcare services to low-income and uninsured individuals through its health center program.

Statistics show that low-income and uninsured Americans have often received an inferior quality of healthcare when compared with middle and upper income Americans who have health insurance coverage.

According to the 2009 National Health Disparities Report, several disparities exist among poor Americans and their wealthier counterparts.

One of the goals of implementing new technology is to improve the quality of care for low-income Americans, HRSA's administrator Mary Wakefield explains.

"These funds will help safety net providers acquire state-of-the-art health information technology systems as they work to provide quality healthcare to millions of people in need," Wakefield said in a statement.

Forty-five grants will support new and enhanced EHR implementation projects as well as HIT innovation projects. The money will enable grantees to use EHR technology to improve health care quality, efficiency, and patient safety. Eligible professionals practicing within health centers who are able to demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology may be eligible for incentive payments provided under Medicaid and Medicare.

Health Center Controlled Networks (HCCNs) improve the operational effectiveness and clinical quality in health centers by providing management, financial, technology and clinical support services. The networks, comprised of at least three collaborating organizations, are community-based groups that support HRSA-funded health centers that provide primary health care to nearly 19 million patients – a number expected to double over the next five years as health reform is implemented.

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