PRINCETON — The Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), based in Princeton, will receive a $338,600 grant to help upgrade health information technology services to rural hospitals and health care units.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced the grant last week, saying ICAHN is one of three Illinois not-for-profit organizations to receive a total $1.3 million in federal funding to help upgrade health information technology services in underserved areas of the state. The grants are made possible by the Illinois Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT) as part of its White Space Grant Program. The OHIT anticipates the grants will enable more than 1,600 individual providers to connect with more than 48 health care organizations serving hundreds of thousands of patients each year, Quinn said.
“Upgrading our health information technology network is a critical part of our efforts to transform our health care system into one that focuses on wellness and keeping people healthy through better preventive care,” Quinn said. “Improving communication among providers is a key to this transformation. These grants are another important step in the direction of a fully connected Illinois and better patient care.”
ICAHN Executive Director Pat Schou said the grant money will be received and utilized from April 2013 to December 2013. Though ICAHN has a membership of 51 rural hospital and health provider units, 19 of those members are expected to have the necessary mechanisms in place to take advantage of the grant program at this time, she said.
During the coming weeks, Schou will work with ICAHN members to verify which are ready for the upgrade program. In time, the goal is to have all small rural hospitals, clinics and service groups ready for the electronic digital and interconnection exchange system, she said.
Funding for the Illinois grants is made possible through the $18.8 million in federal funding awarded to Illinois in 2010 under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. Illinois is using the funding to implement the Illinois Health Information Exchange, a network for the secure sharing of clinical and administrative data among health care providers across the state.
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