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Funds expand for Health it in rural communities

June 4, 2015

The latest round in a White House Council initiative led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to link rural health care organizations with financing they need to adopt Health IT, such as electronic health records, kicks off June 2, 2015 in South Dakota.  To date, we have expanded this initiative to reach doctors, clinics and hospitals in each of 14 states:  Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

“The idea behind our initiative is to expand access to financing for rural health care needs, including health information exchange and telehealth, by using all the tools we have across the government and non-government partners, racking and stacking programs to make them work well together, and using old programs in new ways,” says Leila Samy, Rural and Veteran Health Initiatives, HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

“This is a great opportunity for healthcare providers and organizations to sit down with funders to express need and identify resources. We will work in roundtable format and actively seek resolutions to funding needs. I encourage all providers, healthcare administrators and financing officials to attend,” said Dan Friedrich, Director, healthPOINT at Dakota State University.

“As we work to ensure access to healthcare services across South Dakota, particularly in rural portions of the state, we recognize the need for collaboration between not only our key partners and stakeholders, but also with the utilization of any and all resources available to continue to move forward in addressing healthcare delivery needs in our state,” said Halley Lee, Administrator South Dakota State Office of Rural Health.

White House Rural Council Rural Health Initiatives

In 2011, the White House announced a series of activities to streamline and improve the effectiveness of federal programs serving rural America, including the partnership between White House Rural Council partners from the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, HHS Office of Rural Health Policy and USDA Rural Development to expand funding for Health IT to help rural doctors and hospitals keep up with the urban counterparts in the nationwide push to modernize the health care system.

For more information about these programs, see our blog posts announcing the launch of this same initiative in Iowa, Tennessee, and Mississippi as well as our joint blog with the Health Resources and Services Administration providing an overview of this initiative and its inception.

South Dakota Rural Health Collaborative Funding Workshop

Leadership from Critical Access Hospitals and rural hospitals, mental health clinics, primary care practices, and Federally Qualified Health Centers in rural South Dakota are expected to participate in the workshop with key federal and private-sector partners.  The goals of the workshop are to:

1.    Identify the most pressing funding needs for each participating clinic and hospital in attendance,
2.    Engage in face-to-face problem solving and
3.    Assist the participants in making substantive progress developing their funding applications.

The program relies on the support of all the partners leading this initiative on the ground in South Dakota including the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, healthPoint at Dakota State University, Rural Electric Economic Development, Inc. (REED Fund), East River Electric, and USDA Rural Development.  These partners are committed to developing innovate ways to use existing resources, both public and private, to help South Dakota’s rural health care providers support Health IT needs.