HHS awards $5.3 million for health IT in rural areas

HHS is awarding nearly $5.3 million in grants to help expand the rural Health Information Technology workforce and the use of telehealth to improve mental health services for veterans in rural areas.

A total of $900,000 will be awarded to Maine, Montana and Alaska to improve the quality of mental health and other critical healthcare services for veterans living in rural areas. Each state will receive $300,000 for intervention services that will enable health providers to coordinate care wirelessly to detect and treat post-traumatic stress disorders, traumatic brain injury and other injuries for rural veterans.

Rural organizations in 15 states will receive close to $4.4 million to recruit and train current health care staff, local unemployed workers, rural veterans and potential students to meet the technology needs of rural hospitals and clinics.

“Health IT is growing in rural communities, and its use is even more critical now as we’re expanding access to patients living in those areas,” Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, stated in a press release. “This investment is designed to attract, train and retain HIT specialists who might otherwise seek education and job opportunities away from their own rural communities where their skills are greatly needed.”

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