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HSSC Wins $5.6 Million Grant to Promote Adoption of Electronic Health Records

April 2, 2010

Health information technology (IT) can improve healthcare quality while controlling costs, but implementing such systems can be difficult for primary care physicians. HSSC is helping to solve that problem thanks to a $5.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help implement electronic health record (EHR) systems in doctor’s offices in South Carolina.

With the grant funding, HSSC established a regional extension center called CITIA-SC (Center for Information Technology Implementation Assistance in South Carolina). CITIA-SC will help the state’s primary care practices select certified EHR products, implement them, and train staff so that each practice and its patients get the maximum benefit in terms of improved care, safety and efficiency.

The highly competitive award was through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. HSSC worked with South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to hold seven statewide health IT summits and received input from many organizations and individuals to develop a single strategy for South Carolina. CITIA-SC partners include the South Carolina Hospital Association, South Carolina Office of Rural Health, South Carolina Office of Research and Statistics, South Carolina Primary Health Care Association, AccessHealth SC, South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium, the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence, Lakelands Rural Health Network, the South Carolina Technical College System, and numerous physicians and health systems.

The rigorous, multi-stage evaluation process involved a 26-member review panel to determine which EHR vendors would be certified. Each vendor completed multiple surveys, demonstrated how their product worked in various patient scenarios, and submitted initial proposals for review before submitting final proposals. CITIA-SC’s review panel included primary care physicians with experience in EHRs as well as professionals with expertise in areas relevant to EHR systems such as IT infrastructure, purchasing, implementation, and use within a primary care practice setting.

CITIA-SC’s goal is to assist 1,000 primary care physicians in South Carolina in adopting EHR systems and use them in a meaningful way per federal guidelines. Meaningful use means that a physician is using health IT to improve the quality and safety of healthcare services, deliver care in an efficient manner and reduce health disparities.

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