August 20, 2009 - The White House announced today it will spend $1.2 billion in federal grants for electronic health records (EHR) systems, marking the first wave of funding in a series of HITECH priority grant programs, laying the groundwork for meaningful use of EHRs.
According to David Blumenthal, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology, "These programs will offer valuable help to healthcare providers in the selection and incorporation of EHRs into clinical practice, and for states and their designates to assure that statewide information exchange is developed with an eye toward nationwide connectivity across the healthcare system."
It’s no coincidence that these two grant programs are leading the way. Key to the successful adoption and meaningful use of EHRs is the assurance that providers have the help and guidance they need to select, implement and maintain a certified EHR system. In addition, we need the various and often disparate local, statewide and regional systems to work together, regardless of location and differing state and federal standards or policies, to enhance patient care.
The first grant program, the Health Information Technology Extension Program, will fund dozens of health information technology regional extension centers across the country. The regional extension centers will offer hospitals and clinicians hands-on technical assistance to support meaningful use of certified EHR systems.
A national Health Information Technology Research Center (HITRC) will also be created to help the regional centers collaborate with each other, and serve as a national clearinghouse to identify and share best practices and experiences so that providers can learn from what others have gone through as they’ve put such systems in place.
The second grant program will help states and qualified state-designated entities (SDEs) to develop or align the necessary policies, procedures and network systems to assist electronic information exchange within and across states, and ultimately throughout the healthcare system.
"Key to this program’s overall success will be technical, legal and financial support for information exchanges across health care providers," said Dr. Blumenthal.
For more information on the HITECH priority grants program and application requirements: http://healthit.hhs.gov/HITECHgrants