Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Georgia Moving on HIT

Governor Sonny Perdue reports that three Georgia broadband projects will receive $14.9 million in federal funds through ARRA to expand high-speed internet and wireless access in underserved areas. With these latest awards support for Georgia broadband projects totals over $162.9 million.

The Georgia Partnership for Telehealth (GPT) received a $2.5 million grant. Coupled with an additional $1.2 million in matching contributions, the funding will help to connect community institutions such as hospitals, schools and public health departments, by expanding an existing telehealth network to 67 additional community anchor sites. GPT also plans to implement a training and awareness program for residents and rural healthcare providers to improve healthcare delivery in areas of the state with high levels of poverty.

The GPT has been named as one of four new Telehealth Resource Centers in the U.S. by HHS along with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, University of Hawaii, and the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute. The Southeastern TeleHealth Resource Center (SETRC) will be operated by GPT and provide technical assistance to help healthcare organizations, networks, and providers, implement cost effective telehealth programs serving rural and medically underserved areas and populations.

The Georgia Institute of Technology has been very active in HIT and is part of a new statewide effort to enable the adoption of EHR systems by primary care providers especially those that reach underserved portions of the state’s population.

The work is part of a $19.5 million federally funded project headed by the Morehouse School of Medicine’s National Center for Primary Care and will be coordinated by the Georgia Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (GA-HITREC). The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute will receive $2.8 million for their contribution to the project.

The GA-HITREC project will help as many as 5,200 primary care providers in smaller practices select EHR systems, properly install the software, and implement new workflow processes that achieve meaningful use of the technology. Using its existing statewide network of regional technical assistance offices, Georgia Tech will be among several organizations providing direct support to providers as they adopt the technology.

Georgia Tech is also helping to establish a group purchasing program to help healthcare providers more simply and easily obtain their EHR software. According to Stephen Fleming, Executive Director of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the institute will provide the services and will receive $2.8 million to contribute to the project. In a study released in 2010, EI2 documented that the state’s health information technology industry includes more than 100 companies and employs approximately 10,000 people.