Montana health IT center plans NHIN bid

Montana EHR Conference

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The Department of Health and Human Services wants to tap a wide pool of bidders for the eight prototype contracts the agency plans to award this September for the National Health Information Network. Leaders of a partnership between organizations in Montana and North Carolina say HHS should consider bids from organizations far removed from the Washington, D.C., area.

Raymond Rogers, chief development officer for the National Center for Health Care Informatics at Montana Tech of the University of Montana in Butte, said his organization is partnering with Physicians EHR, an electronic health records consulting firm in Cary, N.C., to bid on one of the network contracts. If the partnership wins, they will serve patients in Montana.

The center is well-positioned for such a bid, Rogers said, in part because it has been chosen to establish a regional health information organization in Montana.

Montana’s geography and sparse population –- roughly 1 million people are spread across 145,000 square miles –- cry out for electronic health care systems. That is one reason the center and the Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation plan to boost interest by holding a health technology conference next month at Montana Tech, Rogers said.

Dr. Dwight Hiesterman, a clinical consultant at the foundation, said, "Paper records are an anathema, given that many of our citizens travel 50 miles to see their primary care physician or up to 300 miles to see a specialist.”

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said, “Providing quality, affordable health care is a top priority. This conference is an excellent first step in looking at ways technology can help us deliver better health care services to the people of Montana."

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