The College of Medicine’s Regional Extension Center (REC), which is helping local physicians adopt and use electronic health records, has received an additional $812,000 in federal funding to expand its efforts. In addition, the REC received $150,000 from the state to help local dentists use electronic records to improve patient care in medically underserved areas.

As a result of federal health care reform legislation, all medical records must be converted to an electronic format by 2014. Electronic records are expected to improve the quality and efficiency of medical care by making information exchanges easier between health care providers. Currently the UCF REC is assisting 1,430 health care providers; 721 have implemented electronic records, and 100 have reached Meaningful Use status, making them eligible for more than $2 million in federal incentives.

UCF is one of 62 centers nationwide that are working to help health care providers reach meaningful use of electronic records. As Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explained, “If you want to promote better coordination of care between doctors, you need to be able to quickly move health information wherever it’s needed. If you want to empower consumers to take charge of their health care, they need to be able to access their health information without calling five different doctor’s offices.”

The additional dollars bring the UCF REC’s total federal grant funding to $8.7 million over four years and will be used to increase resources, training, and education. The funding will also help the center develop a sustainable program that will continue to provide local assistance when grand funding ends.

The $150,000 grant will help the center provide electronic health record assistance to local dentists who work in medically under-served areas and see at least 30 percent of patients who are covered under Medicaid. To be eligible, a dental practice must have less than 10 providers. Using electronic records can help providers better communicate with their patients, provide faster, safer care and increase their practice’s efficiency. “Electronic health records improve patient care and the health of our communities,” said Josue Rodas, director of the UCF REC. “We are honored to receive additional federal and state resources to help health care providers across Central Florida.”

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