Flexibility should be a key principle HHS incorporates in its plan to create a national health information technology extension service, a health IT promotion organization reported based on a survey of its members and of organizations engaged in health information exchange, or HIE.
The eHealth Initiative, Washington, is a not-for-profit coalition formed to promote HIE. It conducted the 18-question survey of its members and 260 organizations involved in HIE organizations between May 6 and May 20.
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, HHS is obliged to create through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology a health IT extension program to assist healthcare providers to adopt, implement and effectively use certified EHR technology.
As part of that effort, HHS shall create a single health information technology research center and create and partially fund an unspecified number of health information technology regional extension centers at not-for-profit organizations. Federal funding for the regional extension program is not to last more than four years and not to exceed more than 50% of their capital and annual operating expenses. Aid provided by the regional extension centers is to be prioritized, with top priority given to public, not-for-profit and critical-access hospitals. Under law, the HHS secretary is required to publish this month a draft description of the program, its goals and criteria and procedures for organizations to apply to become regional extension centers.
In the survey questions, a majority (65%) of respondents chose the selection that, The federal government should lay out an operational outline, and allow each organization to adapt its own practices within that outline, as opposed to 23% choosing, The federal government should lay out a clear design and other criteria for each center to ensure general uniformity in services provided vs. 12% who chose, The federal government should allow each applicant to propose their own design, and judge each application on its merits for the area in question.