Western Washington Rural Health Care Collaborative recently received a health information technology network development grant from HHS. WWRHCC is one of 40 rural recipients across the US. HHS has awarded a total of $11.9 million and WWRHCC will receive almost $300,000 in the first year to assist five members: Forks Community, Whidbey General, Morton General, Willapa Harbor and Ocean Beach. The hospitals will use the funds to adopt electronic health records and other health IT tools and to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for the meaningful use ofEHRs. The grant funds will also be used to purchase equipment, software and provide training for staff members.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.
HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration will distribute the funds, which come from existing appropriations authorized for the Rural Health Care Services Outreach and Rural Health Network Development Program.
HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield said, “Collaboration is key to this effort,” adding, “Working together, these rural health networks will be in a better position to achieve economies of scale and enhance their services and organizational capacity” (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 9/6).