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$1.8 million to assist family physicians with electronic records

Goal: improve rural health care quality, lower costs, save lives

 

April 15, 2010

An organization led by the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) will receive more than $1.8 million to assist 404 primary care physicians in 19 Southeastern Ohio counties with implementing electronic medical records for their practices.

The Appalachian Health Information Exchange (AHIE), which includes OU-HCOM and 19 other health care organizations, was among seven regional sites in the state to receive a total of $26.8 million in federal stimulus funds to assist in the implementation of the state’s health information technology initiative, Gov. Ted Strickland announced.

“Establishing a health information technology system in Ohio is a critical step in lowering cost and improving the quality of care,” Strickland said. “Providers who participate in this valuable initiative will help to lower costs, improve quality and save lives.”

"Electronic Medical Records will become increasingly important to quality medical care in the future.  I am very grateful that OU-HCOM, working with its regional partners, was chosen by the State to help our regional healthcare providers adopt this important technology," said Jack Brose, D.O., dean of OU-HCOM.

OU-HCOM has partnered with regional health care providers to discuss community-based health information exchanges and electronic medical records since 2004 when it was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish the Appalachian Regional Informatics Consortium (ARIC), which became AHIE two years ago, said Brian Phillips, ARIC founder and chief of medical informatics for OU-HCOM.

“AHIE has been planning for the development of electronic health records systems not only for hospitals, but also for private physicians’ practices to better treat patients and provide patient care,” Phillips said.

AHIE will use the new funding to provide consulting services and training to physicians on how to implement electronic medical systems in their practices. The 404 primary care physicians in Southeastern Ohio who qualify for the assistance – all in small, private practices -- do not have the time or money to research various vendors, options and systems, Phillips said.

“We’ll help wade through the information, provide consultation and make recommendations,” Phillips said.

The ultimate goal, Phillips explained, is to help the physicians choose a system that provides a patient’s medical records with a centralized medical “home.” Such a system would allow a physician the ability to monitor overall patient care, including referrals to other health care specialists or physicians, home health care and even prescribing prescription drugs, he said.

“Electronic medical records technology affords the physician the ability to coordinate a patient’s health across the spectrum of health care,” Phillips said.

Phillips noted that AHIE, whose members include every major hospital and hospital system in the region, has been a pioneer in working towards development and implementation of electronic medical records. “The chief operating officers of the hospitals were key in supporting the vision by working together, a vision that got us to this point,” he said.

“This is a step forward for health care quality and providing resources to a very fragile health care system in Southeastern Ohio,” Phillips said of the new funding initiative.

 
 
 
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Last updated: 09/16/2011