IT help on the way for Oregon's critical access hospitals

OCHIN, (parent of O-HITEC), nonprofit providers of health information technology and services for community based health clinics serving the medically underserved, has reached a landmark agreement with ORHQN to assist Oregon's 25 Critical Access Hospitals in reaching the federal requirement to meaningfully use an electronic health record.

As Oregon's federal grantee, OCHIN/O-HITEC is responsible for helping Oregon's rural hospitals and primary care providers in small practices install certified EHR systems and meaningfully use them to improve quality and reduce the cost of patient services. The term of the ORHQN agreement extends for one year beginning April 1st and all facilities will be able to access services without charge through March 2012.

As a result of the federal grant, O-HITEC is able to provide over a dozen free and low-cost services that include meaningful use assessments, EHR vendor selection and installation assistance, on-site audits, education and training, and HIPAA privacy and security assistance. "O-HITEC is pleased to support ORHQN and we look forward to a partnership that will see all of their hospitals meet the federal requirements for Meaningful Use," said Clayton Gillett, O-HITEC's executive director.

ORHQN and OCHIN worked collaboratively to design a solution that would help both non-profits to assist network hospitals with tools and support services to improve patient care and reduce costs. ORHQN was able to apply their Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP) funds as a match for a federal grant program that originated in the ARRA Stimulus Package.  

OCHIN, O-HITEC's parent organization, also contributed some funds to enable ORHQN to meet the matching requirement. "Given our mission to continuously improve the quality of care available to rural communities throughout our State, we are pleased to partner with O-HITEC in providing such expertise and help for member hospitals to become meaningful users of Electronic Health Records," said William McMillan, President of ORHQN, CEO of Curry General Hospital. "Many are already on their way but almost all struggle with the capacity to bring this about on their own.  This grant should provide a technical assistance boost for all our rural hospitals in achieving this status," said McMillan.

"Every state has a regionally-designated health information technology extension center, like O-HITEC and our creative collaboration and partnership with a hospital network is the first of its kind in the nation," said Gillett.