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Rural Residents and HealthCare Providers to Benefit from Health Information Technology Grant Award

 

NAPOLEONVILLE, LA (July 8, 2014) --The Louisiana Rural Ambulance Alliance (Alliance), in partnership with the Louisiana Emergency Response Network (LERN) and the Louisiana Healthcare Quality Forum (Quality Forum) and the Traffic Records Coordinating Committee has been awarded a second $900,000 federal grant to fund the Electronic – Rural Health Information Technology (E-RHIT) Network.  Over the next three year period, the E-RHIT Network will continue to develop and expand upon the program’s services including the implementation of a pre-hospital Electronic Patient Care Record which can be integrated into existing electronic patient systems currently used by critical access hospitals, federally qualified health centers, and physician practices.  The grant will also support access to a statewide patient registry that is focused on trauma, stroke, ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), and burn.

 

“Through the E-RHIT Network, the State has established an EMS registry.  While the registry is in its infancy, I am confident that through the next stage of the grant, data collection will increase.  This data will be used to identify key outcomes and opportunities for education and training, especially in rural areas where people can be miles from the nearest hospital when an injury or sudden illness strikes. Working together is key to this effort,” said Paige Hargrove, Executive Director with LERN.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Rural Health Policy HRSA Rural Health IT Grant Program which was developed as a result of President Obama’s Rural Health Initiative of which identifies health IT as a priority area. The grant program is designed to provide funding to assist rural providers, networks, and hospitals with achieving the meaningful use required to participate in the CMS EHR Incentive Program.

With this funding, the E-RHIT Network in Louisiana will “allow not only for the collection of patient data resulting in better patient outcomes but also for the analysis of data to determine variations across communities in mortality and morbidity and to develop pre-hospital training efforts based on local data,” said Donna Newchurch, CEO of the Alliance.

To complete the deliverables of the grant, E-RHIT will utilize its established governing board as well as its advisory committee of representatives from the pre-hospital setting, in-patient setting, post-care setting, and other appropriate partners.

One of the key premises of the E-RHIT Network is that quality improvement can be achieved by EMS providers through participation in the network. Specifically, the electronic patient care records can guide EMS professionals to better decisions by providing them with relevant information such as comprehensive clinical data, decision support, alerts, and information received from other providers.

The problems that plague all of health care--tightening reimbursements; increased scrutiny by the public, payers and government; staffing shortages; limited access to capital--are exacerbated in rural settings given their geographic isolation. Still, innovative leaders such as those engaged in the E-RHIT network are proving that, indeed, size doesn't matter. These rural providers are adopting information technology and changing work processes to become more efficient and improve quality of care.

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