Rural health IT grants get look over

OMB to review $12 million grant program

An information collection request for the Rural Health Information Technology Network Development Program, which aims to financially support health IT adoption in rural or underserved areas, has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

The Health Resources and Services Administration submitted the information collection request in Friday's Federal Register. Comments submitted during the public review will be subsequently provided to OMB.

"The intent of RHITND is to support the adoption and use of electronic health records in coordination with the ongoing HHS activities related to the (HITECH) Act," the notice reads. 

[See also: ONC releases health information exchange toolkit for rural providers.]

Officials will examine specific program quality measures including access to care; sustainability; health IT; network development; workforce recruitment and health related clinical measures, all of which will help gauge the progress of the program.

The RHITND Program represents $12 million in grants and provides one-time funding opportunity to assist networks in achieving EHR meaningful use requirements by 2014. Grant funds through this program include support for workflow analysis, EHR strategic plan development, training, purchase of health IT equipment, vendor selection and broadband installation, according to a program overview. Telehealth initiatives are exempt from these grants, officials say.

Rural healthcare groups are eligible to receive a maximum of $300,000 annually for a three-year period. Forty RHITND grants were awarded to rural healthcare groups in 2011 and 2012.