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HRSA Health IT Updates for Health Centers and CAHs from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT

    1. Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) Challenges 1,000 Critical Access Hospitals to Become Meaningful Users of Health IT by 2014

A newly announced challenge from the ONC aims to support 1,000 Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and/or small, rural hospitals to qualify for CMS incentive payments for the Meaningful Use of certified health information technology (IT) by the end of 2014. CAHs represent the smallest rural hospitals in the nation—25 beds or less and often with fewer than 10 patients— and play a crucial role in providing and extending access to care for residents of rural communities. In some regions, such as frontier areas, a CAH may be the only local health care provider serving an area the width of the state of Rhode Island.


ONC has committed up to $30 million for Regional Extension Centers (RECs) to provide targeted technical assistance on health IT to CAHs and small, rural hospitals. These supplemental grant funds will allow RECs to provide support to as many as 1,501 small rural hospitals—approximately 90 percent of hospitals covered under HRSA’s Small Hospital Improvement Program and 30 percent of all hospitals nationwide. According to ONC National Coordinator Dr Farzad Mostashari: “ONC is committed to working with all 1,501 of these hospitals and wants each of them to achieve Meaningful Use. At the same time, we recognize that not every health care provider may achieve Meaningful Use in the next two years and we are committed to working with them at their own pace.”To date, more than 1,220 CAHs and rural hospitals across the nation—including the 5,644 clinicians who work in these hospitals—have enrolled with an REC for assistance on their path to Meaningful Use. This indicates that the providers and staff working at CAHs and rural hospitals recognize the value of health IT and want to offer their communities high quality, better coordinated health care services through the use of electronic health records.

For more information please see ONC’s Health IT Buzz Blog at email

    1. ONC Report Highlights Ways To Boost Health IT in Behavioral Care

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recently released a report entitled “Behavioral Health Roundtable: Using Information Technology to Integrate Behavioral Health and Primary Care.”The report outlines recommendations to promote the adoption of health IT systems among behavioral health care providers.

Almost 20 percent of all adults in the United States require behavioral health services. Mental illness is a common co-morbid condition among those with chronic illness, particularly diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Health centers and HRSA grantees provide valuable behavioral health services for the populations they serve. This report highlights 19 key recommendations, divided into three areas, for enhancing the electronic sharing of information among behavioral health care providers. These include:

      • Health IT Capabilities and Standards;
      • Adoption Support; and
      • Education


Please click here to access the full report.

    1. New Meaningful Use Case Studies Available

The National Learning Consortium (NLC) is a nonprofit, web-based education program that was designed to provide stakeholders with timely and relevant information on health IT and health information exchange in the United States. In partnership with the ONC, the National Learning Consortium recently released Meaningful Use Case Studiesthat detail the experiences of providers across the country on their journeys to achieve Meaningful Use. These case studies are based on actual provider experiences and each focuses on a specific subset of the Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements, including a section on key challenges and lessons learned.Please click here to access the case studies or visit the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Meaningful Use Website for Safety Net Providers to access the case studies.

Additional Information
For more information, please visit HRSA’s Health IT Website at or the ONC website at

    1. Sign Up for the HRSA Health Information Technology Newsletter

Sign up for the HRSA Health Information Technology and Quality Newsletter for more information and updates. Click here to register

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