The federal government is accepting applications for $1.2 billion in grants for programs to help support the use and exchange of electronic health records. The grants were mandated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Some $598 million in grants will support creating about 70 Health Information Technology Regional Extension Centers. These centers will help hospitals and physicians select, acquire and use electronic health records systems.
Another $564 million in grants will go to states as well as state-designated entities to support creation of health information exchanges for the sharing of clinical information.
These grants will be awarded in three waves in fiscal 2010, said David Blumenthal, M.D., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
Blumenthal stressed in a press conference Aug. 20 that the federal government will allow HIEs to take a variety of approaches, such as functioning on a state or regional level.
The grant-funded efforts will “lay the groundwork that will enable physicians and hospitals, to the maximum extent possible, to meet conditions for meaningful use of electronic health records,” Blumenthal said.
Under ARRA, hospitals and physicians can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments if they make meaningful use of certified electronic health records. The requirements will include the ability to share records electronically with others, Blumenthal noted. More information about the grants is available at healthit.hhs.gov.

This story can also be found at HealthDataManagement.com

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