Stimulus to link doctors, hospitals in poor areas

Posted Feb. 17, 2010 at 6:20 a.m.

By Bruce Japsen | Several
Chicago hospitals say they plan to use more than $7 million in federal
stimulus dollars to link hundreds of primary care doctors in poor
neighborhoods to each other and hospitals throughout the area.
The proposed Chicago Health Information Technology Regional Extension
Center will be the latest of the “regional extension centers” created
as part of an Obama administration initiative to get all medical care
providers in the country using electronic health records.

Unlike wealthier communities where doctors and hospitals tend to have some kind of computerized record-keeping systems, medical care providers in poor neighborhoods often have patients who don’t regularly see a physician so quick access to their medical records, if they exist, is difficult.
“It’s meant to serve primary care physicians who are in ambulatory or outpatient practices who treat an underinsured or medically underserved population of patients,” said Dr. Abel Kho, an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “These are mom and pop physicians. Ultimately, we believe increasing the percentage of primary care providers using electronic health records will improve the quality, safety and value of health care in Chicago.”
Partners in establishing the Chicago extension center include: Sinai Health System; Children’s Memorial Hospital; Northwestern Memorial Hospital; University of Chicago Medical Center, University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center and Cook County Health and Hospital Systems.
Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn said the state would use $19 million in federal stimulus money to help develop a statewide health information exchange that will allow doctors and hospitals to “electronically share health information.” The governor also signed an executive order to create the Illinois Office of Health Information Technology.


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