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March 31, 2009

State Encourages Organizations to Apply for Health Information Exchange Planning Grants
Applications Mark the First Move to Promote Electronic Medical Records in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Director Barry S. Maram announced that starting tomorrow, April 1, grant applications will be available to organizations interested in financial assistance as their regions plan to implement a state Health Information Exchange (HIE).  The HIE allows healthcare providers to share and access vital health information to help reduce medical errors and enhance patient care coordination.  The grant applications represent the first step toward establishing a HIE.

On Feb. 4, Governor Quinn signed a law appropriating $3 million to HFS to establish a planning program for health information exchange.  The measure was sponsored by State Rep. Julie Hamos, (D-Evanston), who has been a major proponent of health IT in Illinois.

“I would like to thank Governor Quinn and Representative Hamos for their work to move Health Information Exchange forward,” said Director Maram.  “A state-level  HIE will lead to improved quality and efficiency in patient care, and I encourage all eligible nonprofit organizations to log onto the HFS  Web site for more information and to partner with other healthcare organizations in their communities to apply for these HIE Planning Grants.” 

The state’s efforts are intended to jump-start HIE in Illinois in anticipation of future funding from the federal government.  The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, signed into law Feb. 17, dedicates more than $20 billion nationwide to implement electronic health records and health data exchange by 2014.  HIE planning grants will put Illinois in a strong position to leverage these funds in the months ahead.  With this step, Illinois joins several other states that have established programs to promote the use of electronic medical records and facilitate health information exchange between providers. 

As part of the planning process, the state was divided into 16 regional Medical Trading Areas, which will address local planning and HIE implementation needs.  Only one HIE Planning Grant will be awarded to each Medical Trading Area.  Organizations interested in applying must work in conjunction with other local healthcare organizations to complete a proposal that will address local HIE planning needs.

Eligible applicants must be nonprofit organizations based in Illinois.  Proposals are due on May 15.  For additional information including the listing of Medical Trading Areas, please visit the HIE Web site at www.hfs.illinois.gov/hie.



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