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Rural physicians eligible for EHR adoption funds

Article

Remote locations make adopting electronic health records a unique challenge for rural physician practices. The government has recognized that and is earmarking specific funds for those initiatives. See if you qualify for those grants and loans.

As expensive as it is to install electronic health records (EHRs) in physician offices in metropolitan areas, imagine what it must be like when the nearest place to purchase a USB cord is 100 miles away.

Now, physicians in rural areas have an additional source of funding to support their EHR adoption.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) signed a memorandum of understanding in August “linking rural hospitals and clinicians to existing capital loan programs that enable them to purchase software and hardware needed to implement health information technology (HIT),” according to a White House press release.

Funds for EHRs were approved for rural areas of Texas and Iowa, as part of $55 million in financing from the USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program, announced  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

The Community Facilities Program provides grants and loans for projects in rural communities that enhance essential public services such as healthcare, education, and emergency services. Loans and grants are available to municipalities, hospital districts, and nonprofit organizations in towns and other areas with populations of fewer than 20,000 people. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, these funds also will be available to defray EHR implementation costs incurred by rural healthcare providers.

Additional funds for EHR implementation will be available to practices through the USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program, which also offers loans and grants to enhance healthcare in rural areas.

Go back to the current issue of eConsult.

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