New collaboration aims to provide EHR access to underserved healthcare providers

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Emdeon recently announced a partnership to provide access to medical informatics technology to physicians caring for underserved ethnic groups in New Jersey, reports Healthcare IT News.

Emdeon will donate 100 licenses of its Clinician medical informatics software to primary care physicians throughout New Jersey who serve primarily Hispanic and Latino populations. According to data from the 2005-2006 National Ambulatory Medical Care and National Hospital Ambulatory Medicare Care surveys, adoption of clinical informatics networks tends to be lower in physician practices serving Hispanic patients who may not have health insurance, or who are reliant on Medicaid contributions.

“Emdeon is committed to making the benefits of this technology available to physician practices in underserved communities,” said Miriam Paramore, senior vice president of clinical services for Emdeon, as quoted by the news source. “Connecting providers enables clinical information exchange and will help drive better quality and outcomes for patients.”

In order to qualify for a license of Emdeon Clinician, healthcare providers must demonstrate that they operate in what is known as a medically underserved area or health provider shortage area as defined by the HHS. In addition, they must use at least a basic electronic billing system, be eligible for payments under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ meaningful use federal financial incentive program, and submit monthly reports on the usage of the clinical informatics system.

Healthcare IT can have a substantial impact on the quality of care in underserved ethnic communities. According to a recent report published by the American Health Information Management Association, primary care physicians serving primarily Hispanic communities represent the lowest rates of medical informatics adoption at just 5.7 percent, compared to the 38.3 percent observed in larger healthcare facilities serving a more racially diverse patient population.