Cantwell Announces Funding to Modernize Health Care in Washington State

Funding strengthens health information technology and innovation in rural WA; improves quality of care for patients

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced $282,000 to help improve rural access to health care through expanded use of certified health information technology. Qualis Health’s Washington & Idaho Regional Extension Center for Health Information Technology (WIREC) will use the funding to accelerate critical access hospitals’ (CAHs) and rural hospitals’ adoption of electronic health records (EHR).
“This investment in health technology helps ensure that patients across Washington get more coordinated care,” Senator Cantwell said. “Investment in health information technology helps transcend barriers to providing care in rural areas by increasing patient access to care and promoting information-sharing between doctors. The technology improvements will be particularly important for seniors and those with chronic conditions, whose information may be stored with multiple doctors. This is the kind of investment that creates jobs and saves lives, and it strengthens Washington’s role as an innovator in health technology and a leader in promoting efficiency and patient safety.”
The funding announced today is part of $12 million nationally provided through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)’s Regional Extension Center (REC) program, and is in addition to the $20 million provided to RECs last September. Qualis Health received $564,000 in technical support assistance during that round of funding for WIREC to help CAHs and rural hospitals’ outpatient facilities transition to EHR technology, including up to 47 facilities in Washington and Idaho.
The funding is provided under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which created the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs to provide support to health care providers that adopt and demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Incentives will total as much as $26.4 billion over 10 years under the program. The funding announced today is being awarded to 48 RECs serving CAHs and rural hospitals in 41 states and Indian Country to support their efforts transitioning to electronic health records and help them qualify for EHR incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid.
A complete listing of REC grant recipients and additional information about the Health Information Technology Regional Extension Centers may be found at http://www.HealthIT.hhs.gov/programs/REC/.
For information about the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, see http://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms.