Feds Will Help Fund NY Electronic Health Records

Federal grants totaling $48.2 million will help primary care providers in New York adopt electronic health records, as part of a larger federal program establishing 32 regional extension centers to assist providers countrywide in setting up efficient EHR systems. The state of New York plans to assist health care providers with seven free events throughout May, which will attempt to show how deploying EHRs can make a practice more efficient. The Department of Health and Human Services previously announced that nearly a billion federal dollars would be spent on furthering EHR technology.

Federal grants totaling $48.2 million will help New York primary care providers adopt electronic health records. That money will filter to a pair of regional extension centers, the New York eHealth Collaborative and NYC REACH (New York City Regional Electronic Adoption Center for Health), which will assist those primary care providers in carrying out the implementation of those records. Providers will also have the opportunity to qualify for about $63,750 in incentives.

"Our goal is to help approximately 10,000 primary care providers in the state of New York adopt EHRs within two years to enhance patient care and the efficiency of their practices," David Whitlinger, executive director of New York eHealth Collaborative, said in a May 5 statement. "The federal subsidies supporting adoption of [EHRs] will be available only for a couple of years, so it's important for primary care providers in New York to act now to take advantage of these programs while there are still funds available."

Seven free events highlighting the initiative will take place in the next few weeks, with the first being held May 13 at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. That event will include explanations of how EHRs can assist in streamlining health care, with "health technology experts" hosting afternoon sessions on deploying EHRs in their practices. A registration Website can be found here.

"These free summits are a great way for clinicians to learn more about all the resources available to help them implement electronic health records in their practices," Whitlinger said in his statement. "The sooner they start using EHRs to enhance patient care, the more stimulus funds they can earn."

EHRs have become a focus of health care-related government spending; the Department of Health and Human Services announcing on Feb. 12 that nearly a billion dollars would be spent on furthering the technology and the number of workers capable of managing it. About $225 million of that money would be spent training about 15,000 individuals for occupations involving EHRs. More money would go to a combination of state-run health information exchanges and regional extension centers.

"It's crucial for health care providers to learn how to leverage electronic health records to improve patient care, and we are committed to giving them the concrete guidance they will need to do this most effectively," Rachel Block, deputy commissioner for the New York State Office of Health Information Technology, said in a May 5 statement. "[EHRs] will help improve quality of care for New Yorkers while boosting efficiency and enhancing patient satisfaction."

In total, the federal government plans on spending $375 million setting up 32 regional extension centers to help primary care givers transition to more extensive EHR usage. Part of that assistance will apparently involve on-site technical support.