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WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services is devoting more than $5 million in grants to expand health information technology to rural areas, including telehealth, the agency said Thursday.
HHS said it would devote nearly $5.3 million for workforce expansion and the use of telehealth to improve mental health services for veterans in rural areas, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced.
Of that, almost $4.4 million will go to rural organizations in 15 states to recruit and train current healthcare staff, local unemployed workers, rural veterans and other potential students to meet the technology needs of rural hospitals and clinics. Meanwhile, Maine, Montana and Alaska will each receive $300,000 to enhance crisis intervention services through telehealth technologies.
"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," Sebelius said. "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."