Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has received $7,942,500 in federal stimulus funds from the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP), the state designated entity for health information exchange development.
The funding positions the School of Medicine as a regional extension center (REC). The designation will allow the school to help 1,765 health care providers in Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties advance the use of health information technology (HIT) in their practices. The School of Medicine will provide administration and management to multiple contractors whose overall goal is to provide select products and training on how to use the technology to aid in the improvement of patient care.
The formal announcement was made Tuesday afternoon at the Cleveland Clinic by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.
"This is great news for Case Western Reserve School of Medicine's facilities and patients in northeast Ohio," said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. "Health information technology helps reduce medical errors and improves patient care. By helping doctors and nurses consult with one another through technology, we will improve the quality of medical care offered across our state - particularly in rural areas. And by helping medical facilities adopt new information technologies, we will reduce medical errors and lower health costs."
Pamela B. Davis, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at Case Western Reserve, explained how the new initiative could ultimately lead to healthcare advancements in the region. "The School of Medicine is committed to improving the health of our community. We believe that HIT is a key tool in healthcare reform and we look forward to partnering with independent healthcare providers to encourage quick adoption of HIT. Once enabled, HIT provides a two-fold benefit: 1) improving patient care, for example, through electronic alerts that notify healthcare providers of a patient's need for annual testing e.g., mammograms, and 2) by lowering healthcare costs by reducing redundant testing."
The REC endeavor, as directed by the federal government, is specifically targeted toward primary care providers.
"Electronic health records tend to be financially out of reach for private practitioners and small practices," said Julie Rehm, senior associate dean of the School of Medicine and associate vice president of strategic initiatives for Case Western Reserve.
The federal and state initiative is providing smaller primary care practices with an incentive to early adoption of health information technology.
"If healthcare providers adopt early they are eligible for additional reimbursement from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services until 2011," Rehm stated.
The CWRU School of Medicine is one of seven RECs in Ohio established by OHIP and made possible by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). An eighth REC was awarded directly by the federal government to HealthBridge, a not-for-profit health information exchange serving Greater Cincinnati and surrounding areas. The medical school's REC designation has dozens of partnering stakeholders, including the region's major hospitals, health care agencies and programs, health care insurers, and colleges and universities. Several national partners are also part of the REC.
"Success for the CWRU REC will be measured in three ways," said Rehm. "First, we must meet the milestones and metrics that are being asked of us by the federal government. Second, we must enable the earliest adoption possible which will allow primary care providers to pull in the maximum amount of federal dollars from reimbursements. And third, we must improve the quality of care through the utilization of this technology which will ultimately improve the health of Clevelanders."
The REC award builds on the recent Center of Excellence designation by the State of Ohio to CWRU School of Medicine for "Translating Technology and Research into Better Health" which included HIT as a major component.
The Case Western Reserve REC is expected to begin work later this month.
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