Rural health networks nationwide will receive more than $11.9 million to support their adoption of health information technology (HIT) and certified electronic health records (EHR), the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced last Friday.The funding is also intended to assist participating eligible providers of these rural health networks to qualify for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payments, administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
“We need health information technology to bring our health care system into the 21st century,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “These funds will help ‘safety net’ providers acquire state-of-the-art health information technology systems to ensure the delivery of quality care to some of the most remote areas of our country.”
Under the umbrella of this pilot program, each of 40 organizations will receive about $300,000 to purchase equipment, install broadband networks, and provide staff training.
The program is a product of the President’s Rural Health Initiative, which identifies HIT as a priority area, and the Secretary’s Rural HIT Taskforce. Derived from existing appropriations and authorization for the Rural Health Care Services Outreach and Rural Health Network Development Program, funding is to be distributed through HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).