National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Blumenthal wants healthcare providers in rural areas to be an early focus for health IT extension centers, and setting up “beacon communities” will help those providers with better access to broadband connections, Government Health IT reports.
Speaking at a rural health IT conference held April 22, Blumenthal said he is hoping there will be a rural community of practice formed as part of the health IT extension center process. The Office of the National Coordinator is also already working with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce to improve that access to broadband technology, especially through beacon communities, he said.
So far, 60 health IT extension centers across the nation have received $643 million in grants from ONC. Those centers will support healthcare providers in speeding up adoption and meaningful use of EHRs.
In addition, ONC has made available, but not yet awarded, $235 million in grants to establish 15 “beacon communities” that could serve as models of EHR connectivity, up to five of which Blumenthal said will be located in rural areas.