Press Release from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: “HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced nearly $20 million in new technical support assistance to help critical access and rural hospital facilities convert from paper-based medical records to certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Some 1,655 critical access and rural hospitals in 41 states and the nationwide Indian Country, headquartered in the District of Columbia, stand to benefit from this assistance, which can help each of them qualify for substantial EHR incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid.
“The benefits of health information technology can be especially important for patients and clinicians in small and rural health care facilities, yet these facilities face high hurdles as they look toward joining in the transition to electronic information,” Secretary Sebelius said. “The funding we are announcing today is a new category of support, aimed specifically at assisting critical access and rural hospitals with their particular needs and challenges. This new funding is added to the substantial base we have already built to provide assistance to health care providers throughout the country as they transition to EHRs.”
The new funding is provided under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The HITECH Act created the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs, which will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals that adopt and demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Incentives totaling as much as $27.4 billion over 10 years could be expended under the program, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In addition, the HITECH Act provided $2 billion through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to support technical assistance, training, and demonstration projects to assist in the nation’s transition to EHRs.”