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Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Receives Nearly $8M in Federal Funding to Help Providers Enable Adoption of Electronic Health Records in Ohio

News Release: April 13, 2010

CLEVELAND - Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine has received $7,942,500 in federal stimulus funds from the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP), the state designated entity for health information exchange development. The funding will position CWRU School of Medicine as a regional extension center (REC) which allows it to help 1,765 health care providers in Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties advance the use of health information technology (HIT) in their practices. This award builds on the recent Center of Excellence designation by the State of Ohio to CWRU School of Medicine for "Translating Technology and Research into Better Health" which included HIT as a major component.

The CWRU School of Medicine is one of seven RECs in Ohio established by OHIP and made possible by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). An eighth REC was awarded directly by the federal government to HealthBridge, a not-for-profit health information exchange serving Greater Cincinnati and surrounding areas.

"Electronic health records tend to be financially out of reach for private practitioners and small practices," said Julie Rehm, PhD, senior associate dean of the CWRU School of Medicine and associate vice president of strategic initiatives for CWRU. The federal and state initiative is providing smaller primary care practices with an incentive to early adoption of health information technology.

"If healthcare providers adopt early they are eligible for additional reimbursement from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services until 2011. After that, the reimbursement declines and penalties kick in starting in 2015," Rehm stated.

The REC endeavor, as directed by the federal government, is specifically targeted towards primary care providers, specifically, physicians—MDs or DOs who are family physicians, general internal, pediatric or OB/GYN (does not need to be board certified in these areas), and other primary care providers such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, or physician assistants with prescriptive privileges and practicing in one of the previously mentioned areas. The CWRU School of Medicine will provide administration and management to multiple contractors whose roles will vary by expertise but overall will help providers select products and provide training on how to use the technology to its fullest potential in order to improve patient care. This includes providing workforce support, implementation and project management, practice and workflow design, vendor selection, privacy and security best practices, progress towards meaningful use, functional interoperability and health information exchange.

The CWRU REC has a number of stakeholders, including:

  • University Hospitals
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • MetroHealth System
  • Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center
  • Sisters of Charity Health System
  • Southwest General Hospital
  • Parma Hospital
  • Better Health Greater Cleveland
  • OneCommunity
  • Ohio KePro
  • The Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio (AMCNO)
  • Academy of Medicine Education Foundation (AMEF)
  • The Cuyahoga County District Board of Health
  • Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative
  • The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland
  • MSS Consultants
  • Ohio Hospital Association
  • Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County (ADAMHS Board)

In addition, the following entities will likely participate in the CWRU REC:

  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Medical Mutual of Ohio
  • CareSource
  • Care Alliance Health Center
  • Center for Community Solutions
  • Health Action Council Ohio
  • Health Policy Institute of Ohio
  • Cuyahoga Community College
  • Lakeland Community College
  • Neighborhood Family Practice
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
  • Ohio State Medical Association
  • Center for Health Affairs
  • CVS/Caremark
  • Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services (NEON)

"The School of Medicine is committed to improving the health of our community," said Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs, CWRU. "We believe that HIT is a key tool in healthcare reform and we look forward to partnering with independent healthcare providers to encourage quick adoption of HIT. Once enabled, HIT provides a two-fold benefit: 1) improving patient care, for example, through electronic alerts that notify healthcare providers of a patient's need for annual testing e.g., mammograms, and 2) by lowering healthcare costs by reducing redundant testing."

CWRU is one of 46 recipients of the NIH Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) grants in the US, which provide substantial infrastructure funding. CTSA awards have mandated informatics and community engagement cores, making collaboration with the growth of electronic health records a logical extension of their initial work. The CWRU CTSA collaboration includes three of the hospital affiliates of the School of Medicine, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth Medical Center. The School of Medicine and its hospital affiliates reach into the community at many sites, some of which will become study sites in the CTSA. Together with the strong biomedical cores, the reach of these programs affords great opportunity for collaborative clinical research. Close association with these organizations throughout the design and early implementation of the CWRU REC will lead to more rapid implementation of research projects based on electronic health record data. As a result, the CWRU School of Medicine will house its REC within its CTSA.

"This is great news for Case Western Reserve School of Medicine's facilities and patients in northeast Ohio," said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. "Health information technology helps reduce medical errors and improves patient care. By helping doctors and nurses consult with one another through technology, we will improve the quality of medical care offered across our state - particularly in rural areas. And by helping medical facilities adopt new information technologies, we will reduce medical errors and lower health costs."

"Success for the CWRU REC will be measured in three ways," said Rehm. "First, we must meet the milestones and metrics that are being asked of us by the federal government. Second, we must enable the earliest adoption possible which will allow primary care providers to pull in the maximum amount of federal dollars from reimbursements. And third, we must improve the quality of care through the utilization of this technology which will ultimately improve the health of Clevelanders."

The Case Western Reserve REC is expected to begin work in April.

About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Eleven Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News &World Report "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine's primary affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.