|HRSA grants $1.6 million for electronic medical records network|
A $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will be used to develop an electronic network across seven health care facilities in the Red River Valley.
Federal officials, including Elizabeth Duke, HRSA administrator, were in Grand Forks at the Center for Rural Health Dec. 11 to announce the selected facilities which serve Grand Forks, Northwood, Park River and Cavalier.
“HRSA is very pleased to be part of solutions for maintaining access to quality care for rural Americans through the adoption of electronic health records,” Duke said. “Networking is a key component for rural health providers in providing care to patients. This pilot project will help pave the way through the development of an e-highway for North Dakotans.”
The federal grant, obtained through the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota, was one of 16 competitively funded across the nation.
“Health care facilities across the country are moving away from paper records to electronic records, just as banks and other businesses have done,” said Marlene Miller, project co-director at the Center for Rural Health. “Through this project, North Dakota is leading the way to develop information technology networks that connect small rural hospitals and large referral systems.”
The network will develop and connect electronic medical records across all of the participating facilities. Altru Health System will serve as the electronic hub, able to send and receive patient information through a secure and confidential electronic highway.
Electronic medical records are an important tool to help health care providers avoid medical errors, strengthen quality of care and improve the accuracy and security of patient information. Additionally, when patients are referred between facilities, electronic medical records provide health care clinicians with immediate and up-to-date information, such as medications, x-rays, and lab results.
“Altru Health System is excited to be a part of this great endeavor with our regional partners in healthcare and the Center for Rural Health,” explained Brad Wehe, administrative director, Regional Development, Altru Health Systems. “This grant will allow us to assist in implementing an electronic process that will assure critical patient information is available immediately to assist in the care of a patient. It will help tie Altru Health System to the region in a seamless fashion.”
“Electronic medical records are an important investment for hospitals,” said Lynette Dickson, project co-director at the Center for Rural Health. “We’re excited about successfully competing for a grant of this size and bringing it in to North Dakota to benefit rural communities.”
In 2004, President George W. Bush set a goal that most Americans should have electronic medical records by 2014. This project helps move rural North Dakota communities toward achieving this goal.
-- Shelley Pohlman, Asst. to the Director, Public Affairs, email@example.com, 701-777-4305