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Rural Hospitals in Arkansas to Receive Funding for SHARE Connectivity

Delta Regional Authority, Arkansas Office of Health Information Technology awards to link critical access hospitals to state system

Chairman Masingill: “Arkansas’ rural communities will be better connected to cutting-edge and cost-effective health care.”

Rural communities throughout the state of Arkansas will have the opportunity to receive funding to connect their hospitals to the state’s electronic health records database, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and Office of Health Information Technology Director Ray Scott announced today.

The SHARE Connectivity Program will make available awards to designated Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and Small Rural Hospitals (SRHs) in eleven Delta counties as well as in seven counties with such facilities outside the Delta to help with the costs of connecting the hospitals’ electronic health record (EHR) systems with the statewide health information exchange known as SHARE (State Health Alliance for Records Exchange).  The awards of up to $10,000 per facility will assist with implementation costs. Currently, EHR vendor costs of $6,000 to more than $20,000 for implementation are a barrier to some hospitals in the state.

“Providing our communities with quality health care options and supporting a healthy workforce is crucial to economic development in the Delta,” Chairman Chris Masingill said. “Because of this investment, Arkansas’s rural communities will be better connected to cutting-edge and cost-effective health care.”

CAHs and SRHs across the state have transitioned from paper records to electronic medical record systems. However, these hospitals may not be able to efficiently exchange patient information with larger hospital systems and other treating health care providers without connecting to SHARE.

“These small hospital systems are a critical part of the Arkansas health care network,” Scott said. “Having them connect to SHARE will give them access to more complete health information about their patients, and improve their ability to coordinate their patients’ care with other providers.”

The Delta Regional Authority was notified by Governor Beebe’s office that funding was needed, and the project was approved by the DRA last month.  The Authority will contribute $125,300 in total investment that will support program awards directed to twelve eligible CAHs and SRHs in the Delta region, in addition to $70,000 in funds committed by the Arkansas Office of Health Information Technology to support vouchers for seven eligible hospitals located outside the Delta. The twelve eligible CAHs and SRHs serve eleven Delta counties: Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Clay, Dallas Desha, Drew, Fulton, Izard, and Randolph.

“The SHARE Connectivity Program is an important step in bringing our state’s rural hospitals to the next level of health care delivery,” Governor Mike Beebe said. “Connecting these hospitals to our state’s network of electronic health records will provide much needed coordinated health care to Arkansas families and communities.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for Arkansas hospitals and families. This critical funding will allow for better coordination among our hospitals and improved patient care,” U.S. Senator Mark Pryor said. “As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet (CTI), I’ll keep working to ensure all Arkansas hospitals and businesses have access to affordable online tools so they can operate more efficiently and save money. “

“This is an important investment in the health of rural Arkansans that will provide more opportunities to connect with health care providers and seek the care they depend on,” U.S. Senator John Boozman said. “This is a great step to containing health care costs and improving access to physicians for citizens in the Delta.”

“The demand for local access to superior healthcare far outweighs available resources in Arkansas.  That’s why utilizing technology is so important in meeting this need by making patient records available electronically.  Today’s announcement is a patient-centered solution that will lower costs and improve Arkansans’ access to quality health care, U.S. Representative Tim Griffin said.”

“The SHARE connectivity program is an excellent way to improve coordination across geographical lines that will improve quality of care in rural Arkansas, U.S. Representative Rick Crawford said. “This creative approach is exactly the type of innovation we need to support rural families, and I applaud the Delta Regional Authority and Office of Health Information Technology for their involvement in this issue.”  

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta. In twelve project cycles, the Authority is helping to create and retain nearly 41,000 jobs and has leveraged $2.7 billion in other public and private investments in the Delta region.

The State Health Alliance for Records Exchange (SHARE) is Arkansas’ statewide health information exchange (HIE) that allows health care providers, related health services professionals, and public health authorities in Arkansas to access and exchange with each other real-time, secure, electronic patient information that is protected by privacy and security laws. Through its implementation and use, SHARE will reduce medical errors and duplicate testing, promote improved management of chronic diseases, and improve patient care coordination among unaffiliated health care providers.

Contacts:  DRA Press Office
501-416-3789, [email protected]

Christy Williams, OHIT
501-978-3944, [email protected]