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$36 Million to Help Rural Organizations Achieve Meaningful Use

Rural organizations striving for meaningful use of electronic health records can now apply for support from a new $36 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  The Rural Health Information Technology Network Development (RHITND) program will expand access to, coordinate and improve the quality of essential health care services, and enhance the delivery of health care in rural areas.  Beginning in September, the program will  support health care providers who work in rural organizations (formal networks, alliances, coalitions, or partnerships).  During the Federal fiscal years 2011-2013, the program will provide an estimated 40 grant recipients with up to an average of $300, 000 per year. The application deadline is May 27, 2011.
Grant recipients may use funds to identify, locate, and purchase health information technology (HIT) equipment, support EHR training and strategic plan development, install broadband and analyze workforce.  DHHS anticipates the program will improve the financial viability of these networks, enhance professional development, workforce recruitment and retention, and help network members share expertise and staff.  The program should also enhance the continuum of care, provide continuous quality improvement of care by network members, and improve cost efficiencies.

Eligible applicants must be a nonprofit with 501 (C)(3) status with IRS, other than institutions of higher education or a Federally recognized Native American tribal government.  All applicants must be located in a rural area or rural census tract of an urban county, and all services are provided in the rural county or census tract; or provide services to migrant or seasonal farm workers in rural areas supported under Section 330G of the Public Health Service Act; or is a Tribal government whose grant-funded activities will be conducted within their Federally-recognized Tribal area.

According to the grant announcement, the network must consist of at least three health care providers that are separate, existing organizations that have their own employer identification number(EIN).  Multiple health care providers owned by the same entity or health system are not considered a separate entity.  The lead applicant and their network partners must not currently have a complete and functioning EHR system and are looking to purchase one; or, a majority (two-thirds) of the partners has not yet purchased or implemented a complete EHR system.  For more information about this funding opportunity, click here.

For information on the Medicaid and Medicare EHR incentive programs, EHR adoption, or how the MO HIT Assistance Center helps health care providers adopt and achieve meaningful use of certified EHRs, please visit the Missouri Health Information Technology Assistance Center Web site, E-mail us, or call us toll-free 1-877-882-9933.

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