While stories of successful electronic health record (EHR) implementation can bring a sense of calm to other health organizations trying to accomplish the feat, it represents only a portion of those trying to enhance their health IT infrastructure. Another portion include the underserved and rural areas in the United States, where deploying an EHR system with limited resources is an intimidating task.
One way to alleviate those fears is by getting help, and help is on the way. The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and Williston Park, N.Y.-based North Shore Medical Labs are partnering to augment health care IT by offering discounted electronic health record (EHR) technology and free training to underserved areas.
The organizations are all taking specific roles to help underserved populations. AHIMA will supply 100 doctors in Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina with free training, the organization announced during its annual convention in Salt Lake City. HHS and the ONC are responsible for recognizing the communities that need a health IT upgrade. North Shore Medical Labs is likely to donate 75% of the cost of EHR software and services. Additionally, North Shore’s donation will include a fully integrated practice management system and, overall, they have committed nearly $1.5 million thus far to the IT operation.
The recruitment of eligible providers (EPs) will come from the Mississippi Institute for Improvement of Geographic Minority Health and the North Carolina Health Information Management Association (NCHIMA). There are mandates in place for a provider to be eligible for the program, and they are as follows:
• Practice in a HHS-designated medically underserved area (MUA) or health provider shortage area (HPSA);
• Have an Internet connection and use an electronic billing system;
• Be a small practice group of one to five providers or a federally qualified health center within the MUA and/or PSA;
• Be eligible to receive “meaningful use” incentives, as defined by the HITECH Act; and
• Complete an initial application and submit monthly report