Key Health Care IT Trends
The good news is that primary focus now seems to be squarely on improving the overall quality of health care and the reduction of human errors.
A little more than a year ago, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the first grants authorized by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act for moving hospitals and doctors' offices to electronic records systems would be used to create what the act calls regional extension centers. The funds dispersed at that time totaled $589 million.
Last week, Sebelius announced the availability of an additional funds totaling nearly $20 million. These funds are specifically earmarked to aid "critical-access and rural hospital facilities" in their effort to move toward electronic medical records, InformationWeek reports. The money will be distributed to 46 regional extension centers and then divided among 1,655 facilities in 41 states and the "nationwide Indian country," the story says.
According to Sebelius:
The benefits of health information technology can be especially important for patients and clinicians in small and rural healthcare facilities, yet these facilities face high hurdles as they look toward joining in the transition to electronic information. The funding... is a new category of support, aimed specifically at assisting critical-access and rural hospitals with their particular needs and challenges.
Funds awarded under the HITECH Act for the regional centers reportedly now total more than $663 million.