KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Obama Administration Announces $1 Billion In New Health IT Grants

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Friday announced the release of $1 billion in stimulus funds to expand the use of electronic records and to train health care workers.

Various local news outlets reported on the grants:

KHI (Kansas) News Service: "Federal officials have set the goal of every American having a digital health record by 2014."

Chattoonaga (Tenn.) Times Free Press: "Tennessee will use much of its $11.7 million grant to support the nonprofit Health Information Partnership for Tennessee, which is building the infrastructure for a statewide information exchange that clinicians could use to share patient data."

Kentucky Business First: "$761 million consists of grant awards through HHS. Another $227 million consists of Department of Labor grants to train workers in health care and other growing industries, including health IT."

Florida Sun Sentinel: "Studies estimate that only one-quarter to one-third of doctors use electronic medical records, and local officials said it's probably less in South Florida, which has many small medical practices that are less likely to abandon paper records."

Dayton (Ohio) Business Journal: "Only 11 percent of U.S. hospitals have fully implemented electronic medical records, but both major hospital networks in the Dayton area are in various stages of implementation." 

The Fresno (Calif.) Bee: "Hospitals in the central San Joaquin Valley are moving to electronic medical records as fast as they can, hoping to cash in on millions of dollars in federal stimulus money available to help them join the electronic age."

Meanwhile, American Medical News reports that online contact between doctors and patients is growing. "Manhattan Research's recently released report, 'Physicians in 2012: The Outlook on Health Information Technology,' found that 39% of physicians use e-mail, secure messaging or instant messaging to communicate with patients, up 14% from 2006. Dermatologists were the most likely users, followed by oncologists, neurologists, endocrinologists and infectious disease specialists. Primary care physicians ranked sixth on the list. The overall growth of online communication can be attributed to an increased comfort level for both physicians and patients, according to Erika S. Fishman, director of research at Manhattan Research" (Dolan, 2/15).

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