$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 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
“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.