First HITECH Grants Will Create Health IT Regional Extension Centers

Lora Bentley

Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that $1.2 billion in grant money will be made available to help hospitals and other health care providers transition to electronic health records. Of that amount, $589 million will go to create what the HITECH Act calls Health Information Technology Regional Extension Centers.


Seeking more information on what these regional centers would provide and why they were necessary, I called Stevie Davidson, the president and CEO of Health Informatics Consulting. Davidson also serves on New Jersey's Health Information Technology Commission.


She explained that the $589 million would be divided among nonprofits across the country that apply and are qualified to create one of at least 70 regional centers responsible for assisting health care providers in their respective geographic areas with the transition. Then, the remaining $564 million will be awarded to hospitals and health clinics for their e-health records systems.


According to the Health and Human Services Web site, the regional centers will be responsible for much more than helping the hospitals select the right technology. They will also assist them in:

  • Achieving effective implementation of a certified EHR product.
  • Enhancing clinical and administrative workflows to optimally leverage an EHR system's potential to improve quality and value of care.
  • Observing and complying with applicable legal, regulatory, professional and ethical requirements to protect the integrity, privacy and security of patients' health information.


HHS also indicates that the centers' "most intensive technical assistance" will go to physicians, nurse practitioners and other clinicians in small practices because they provide the majority of the nation's health care, but are also the least likely to adopt EHR systems.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 21, 2009 9:04 AM Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson  says:

Are we building a health IT Tower of Babel?

Overlooked in most of the electronic health records discussion is the potential for population-level analysis -- finding healthcare patterns and measuring quality and improvement over time. Only if systems work together via data exchanges or other data pooling can we get the most out of our EHR investment.  More: http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?cat=3

Aug 30, 2009 12:04 PM Marshall Maglothin Marshall Maglothin  says:

8The HITECH Grants will produce the most profound advancement in health information, and I believe in ultimately the delivery of personal health care, in mankind's history.  This platform will move us from a fragmented electronic structure for financial transactions to the breath-taking new vista of disease prevention and management.

I encourage all of your HIT readers to be aggressive and involved participants in networking to energize this transformation with the regional organizations which will burst forth in the next 18 months.


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