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Doctors and Hospitals Receive Funding to Adopt Technology to Improve Patient Care

September 17, 2009

The Washington Health Information Collaborative has distributed more than $3 million to healthcare providers since 2005.

Seattle, WA - Thirty-four physician practices, health clinics and hospitals, primarily in small and rural communities throughout the Pacific Northwest, are getting help to improve healthcare for their patients through information technology. Twenty-one of them are in Washington state.

Healthcare providers throughout Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Oregon have been selected to receive up to $20,000 from an innovative public-private partnership, the Washington Health Information Collaborative (WHIC). The organization is comprised of First Choice Health, the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), the Puget Sound Health Alliance and Qualis Health. Once again this year, First Choice Health is contributing $500,000 to the awards fund. The Health Care Authority is contributing an additional $50,000 to provide funding for programming or technical support to enhance, modify or expand existing electronic health record system or registry data collection, management and reporting capabilities. Organizational and in-kind services for the WHIC are contributed by the Alliance and Qualis Health. This is the fifth year of the awards program that has now distributed more than $3 million to health care providers since 2005.

“Both First Choice Health and the HCA are focusing our awards this year on those practices that are participating in the Washington Patient-Centered Medical Home Collaborative,” says First Choice Health Vice President Bob Hinman. “We wish to continue the support of smaller practices with their technological advancement, but also want to help with the development of the Patient-Centered Medical Home model of care.”

“This is one of several initiatives in which the State of Washington is promoting the use of health information technology,” says Steve Hill, Administrator of the Washington State Health Care Authority. “Along with projects involving health record banks and several stimulus-related projects being proposed by the state, Washington is becoming a leader in the use of technology to improve the delivery of healthcare services.”

Too many doctors’ offices and hospitals still rely on paper files, faxes, phone calls and faulty memories. When medical histories are piecemeal, that affects healthcare quality and cost. The American healthcare system is finally starting to use the same type of technology that banks have used for years in ATMs and that most businesses in nearly every other industry use to operate effectively and efficiently.

The health information technology awards are intended to improve healthcare safety, quality and cost by enabling physicians and other practitioners to instantly and securely access accurate individual patient medical records, in addition to looking at aggregated data among all their patients for improved decision-making. As healthcare quality comparison reports become more common, physicians and hospitals are adopting technology to help them more consistently provide care that is effective in keeping their patients as healthy as possible.


First Choice Health (www.fchn.com) is a regionally-based hospital- and physician-owned company that provides healthcare services to more than one million members in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State. The company emphasizes quality healthcare, public service, and bringing technology to benefit healthcare practitioners and patients.

The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) (www.hca.wa.gov) is a cabinet-level agency that administers health programs and provides access to high-quality healthcare for more than 500,000 Washington residents, including 316,000 state and local government employees and 128,000 enrollees in Basic Health, a state-subsidized program for low-income families. HCA's mission is to make affordable healthcare accessible by delivering the best value in healthcare to all enrollees through efficient procurement strategies and cost-effective healthcare delivery systems.

The Puget Sound Health Alliance is a non-profit made up of those who provide, pay for and use health care, working together to improve quality of care at a price more people can afford. More than 50 individuals and 170 organizations have joined the Alliance, including many employers, physician clinics, hospitals, consumer groups, unions and trusts, health plans and others. The Alliance produces the Community Checkup, a report on health care performance in the region. For the full report, go to www.WACommunityCheckup.org.

Qualis Health is dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare delivery and health outcomes for individuals and populations across the nation. In operation since 1974, the nonprofit, healthcare quality improvement organization (QIO) is headquartered in Seattle, Washington and has offices in Alaska, Idaho, California, South Carolina, and Nebraska. Qualis Health holds QIO contracts with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Idaho and Washington.

Other Contacts:

Bob Hinman
First Choice Health
(206) 268-2449

Kelly Llewellyn
Washington State Health Care Authority
(360) 923-2772

Diane Giese
Puget Sound Health Alliance
(206) 448-2570 ext. 117

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