The grants comprise $598 million to fund about 70 regional centers to provide technical assistance and support for implementing Electronic Health Records, as well as $564 million in state grants to share information nationwide. Applicants can visit http://healthit.hhs.gov/ for more information. The grants, to be available in 2010, are part of the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
“Expanding the use of electronic health records is fundamental to reforming our health care system,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement. “Electronic health records can help reduce medical errors, make health care more efficient and improve the quality of medical care for all Americans. These grants will help ensure more doctors and hospitals have the tools they need to use this critical technology.” Sebelius and Vice President Joe Biden announced the grants Thursday.
The federal government has set aside more than $20 billion in stimulus funds to implement electronic health records nationwide, as a means of improving patient care and cutting out costs by consolidating redundant paperwork.
President Obama has set a goal of computerizing U.S. health records in five years, with penalties for health IT hold-outs starting in 2015. The Congressional Budget Office estimates e-health records could save the U.S. $12 billion over 10 years, out of $2.2 trillion spent on healthcare each year in the U.S.