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The Health and Human Services Department has awarded an additional $20 million to aid critical access and rural hospitals in adopting electronic health records.
The added boost will provide technical support to about 1,655 critical access and rural hospitals in 41 states and the nationwide Indian Country, according to a Sept. 10 news release.
The money will flow through regional extension centers (REC) that were created to help health care providers adopt electronic health records and achieve meaningful use. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology awarded more than $640 million earlier this year to 60 existing entities that now operate as RECs across the country.
This additional funding will be dispersed to 46 of them thanks to provisions under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act
“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 Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology, in the release. “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 are expected to be self-sustaining by mid-2012, and the goal is to serve at least 100,000 providers that have small practices, or serve the uninsured and underinsured.