Grants will be given out in 2010

The Obama Administration has placed reforming the healthcare industry at the forefront of its domestic goals. The current healthcare system in America is rife with paperwork and other processes that create significant overhead and lead to duplicate tests and other issues at times.

One of the main requirements for overhauling the medical industry in the U.S. according the government is to move form paper medical records to digital records. The DoD has been trialing electronic medical records for military veterans already, and is set to roll its own program out to more facilities around the country. The government has announced that about $1.2 billion in grants will be given to hospitals and health care providers to move from paper records to electronic medical records.

About half of the grant money, $598 million, will be used to set up 70 different health information technology centers and to help hospitals and other care providers acquire the technology needed to support and work with digital health records. About $564 million will be used to set up the nationwide system of health information networks to interconnect the 70 technology centers.

The goal of the program is to help doctors and hospitals build the infrastructure they need to exchange and use electronic health records and move them among the various health agencies in the country. Kathleen Sebelius said, "This is just the first wave of resources invested in health technology aimed at transforming our paper-driven system to an electronic system over the next several years."

Sebelius says that the move to electronic medical records is a fundamental part of reforming the ailing healthcare system in America. According to David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health IT, the funds from the grants will be handed out to qualifying providers in three cycles throughout 2010.

The Washington Post reports that doctors, hospitals and other providers will have to purchase the needed equipment to work with electronic health records and will have until 2015 to make the purchases and qualify for reimbursement for the hardware. The Obama administration expects that the stimulus program will ultimately result in savings of about $17 billion per year. Some believe that the universal adoption of electronic health records in America could result in savings of more than $77 billion each year.

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