HHS to establish HIT Research Center to support extension centers

Hey all you EMR and EHR fans at CMS, ONC, HIMSS, EHRA, AAFP and the like--get ready for yet another handy acronym in the world of ARRA/HITECH: HITRC, short for Health Information Technology Research Center. That's the name for a new HHS office that will support the 60 to 70 regional health IT extension centers planned to help physicians adopt EMRs and gain federal bonus payments for meaningful use.

HHS soon will issue about $50 million in task orders to establish the HITRC, according to Jonathan Seidman, acting director of ONC's new division on meaningful use. Seidman, speaking at a Washington conference on Tuesday, also said that HHS will name the first half of the extension centers in the next few weeks, reports Federal Computer Week. The department had said it would award grants for about 30 centers by Jan. 21.

The new ONC division is intended to help "priority providers" such as small physician practices, rural and community clinics, critical care centers, public-access hospitals and others that care for uninsured and medically underserved populations achieve meaningful use. Seidman said that the research center will offer a web-based "Virtual Learning Community" to help reach as many people as possible.

To learn more about plans for the HITRC:
- have a look at this Federal Computer Week story