Electronic Health Records

Integration & Interoperability News

ONC Grants $1M for Community Health Information Exchange

By Sara Heath

EHR adoption is an important step for a healthcare facility to make in increasing health information exchange (HIE) and quality of care. Storing data in an EHR allows for better data sharing, and in turn, better care coordination.

A major enabler of providers adopting certified EHR technology is meaningful use, which provides financial incentives to facilities that meet a certain set of guidelines. However, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), many facilities are ineligible for these incentives and therefore cannot partake in EHR adoption.

A recent ONC statement by ONC Chief Medical Officer Thomas A. Mason, MD, announces a group of community programs that will support facilities who do not qualify for EHR incentive programs. A total of ten community programs will come together with other care providers to implement seamless data sharing systems through grant programs.

These programs are critical due to the vast amount of information involved in the healthcare industry. Considering the large number of healthcare facilities specializing in various disciplines, as well as the amount of data each facility maintains, it is clear that comprehensive and interoperable data management systems and EHRs are important for the continued growth of the healthcare industry.

“These important investments should help with the flow of health information to individuals no matter the care setting in which they receive care,” Mason writes. “These awards will also foster an interoperable learning health system—truly linking the traditional health care system with community and social support—resulting in healthier people and communities.”

The ten programs participating in this initiative include:

  1. AltaMed Health Services Corporation

  2. Community Health Center Network, Inc.

  3. Georgia Health Information Network

  4. National Healthy Start Association

  5. Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS)

  6. Peninsula Community Health Services

  7. Rhode Island Quality Institute

  8. The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

  9. Utah Department of Health

  10. Washtenaw County-Community Support and Treatment Services

“This new investment will help increase adoption and use of electronic health information in a manner that is appropriate, standardized, secure, timely, and reliable for both senders and receivers,” Mason wrote.

Mason states that this program is intended to build upon the recent awards totalling to $38 million given by the ONC back in July. Those awards were given to facilities to improve interoperable systems to increase care coordination and data sharing, supporting the improvement of the healthcare industry at large.

“We have made great strides in the adoption and use of health IT,” says National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc. “As we move beyond adoption to a learning health system where information is available when and where it matters most, it is important to ensure greater care coordination at the community level, and these grants provide resources to meet this goal.”




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