ONC Awards $12 Million in Grants to Help Critical Access, Rural Hospitals Adopt EHRs

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has awarded $12 million in new grants to provide technical assistance to critical access hospitals and rural hospitals in their efforts to adopt and implement electronic health record systems to meet “meaningful use” requirements.

The new funding will be used by regional extension centers in 41 states to assist more than 1,700 CAHs and rural hospitals with EHR initiatives. The largest of the grants went to the Wide River Technology Extension Center in Nevada ($1.1 million) and the Georgia HITREC ($1 million).

The grants are in addition to $20 million in REC funding announced last September by ONC, also to help CAHs and rural hospitals meet meaningful use criteria.

The latest round of grants brings to $32 million in ONC funding--made available by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act--for RECs to help CAHs and rural hospitals.

“We recognize that the transition to electronic health records is a challenge and that rural facilities face even greater challenges to make the transition from paper to electronic records,” National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal said in an ONC release about the new grants. “This additional funding recognizes the need to address these challenges and represents another milestone in our commitment to critical access and rural hospitals throughout the country as they transition to EHRs.”

A listing of the grant awards to RECs is available at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/rec_awards_02082011.html.

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