42 U.S. Code § 300jj–32 - Health information technology implementation assistance
(a) Health information technology extension program
To assist health care providers to adopt, implement, and effectively use certified EHR technology that allows for the electronic exchange and use of health information, the Secretary, acting through the Office of the National Coordinator, shall establish a health information technology extension program to provide health information technology assistance services to be carried out through the Department of Health and Human Services. The National Coordinator shall consult with other Federal agencies with demonstrated experience and expertise in information technology services, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in developing and implementing this program.
(b) Health Information Technology Research Center
(1) In general
The Secretary shall create a Health Information Technology Research Center (in this section referred to as the “Center”) to provide technical assistance and develop or recognize best practices to support and accelerate efforts to adopt, implement, and effectively utilize health information technology that allows for the electronic exchange and use of information in compliance with standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria adopted under section 300jj–14 of this title.
The Center shall incorporate input from—
(A) other Federal agencies with demonstrated experience and expertise in information technology services such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology;
(B) users of health information technology, such as providers and their support and clerical staff and others involved in the care and care coordination of patients, from the health care and health information technology industry; and
The purposes of the Center are to—
(B) accelerate the transfer of lessons learned from existing public and private sector initiatives, including those currently receiving Federal financial support;
(C) assemble, analyze, and widely disseminate evidence and experience related to the adoption, implementation, and effective use of health information technology that allows for the electronic exchange and use of information including through the regional centers described in subsection (c);
(D) provide technical assistance for the establishment and evaluation of regional and local health information networks to facilitate the electronic exchange of information across health care settings and improve the quality of health care;
(E) provide technical assistance for the development and dissemination of solutions to barriers to the exchange of electronic health information; and
(c) Health information technology regional extension centers
(1) In general
The Secretary shall provide assistance for the creation and support of regional centers (in this subsection referred to as “regional centers”) to provide technical assistance and disseminate best practices and other information learned from the Center to support and accelerate efforts to adopt, implement, and effectively utilize health information technology that allows for the electronic exchange and use of information in compliance with standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria adopted under section 300jj–14 of this title. Activities conducted under this subsection shall be consistent with the strategic plan developed by the National Coordinator, (and, as available) under section 300jj–11 of this title.
Regional centers shall be affiliated with any United States-based nonprofit institution or organization, or group thereof, that applies and is awarded financial assistance under this section. Individual awards shall be decided on the basis of merit.
The objective of the regional centers is to enhance and promote the adoption of health information technology through—
(A) assistance with the implementation, effective use, upgrading, and ongoing maintenance of health information technology, including electronic health records, to healthcare providers nationwide;
(C) active dissemination of best practices and research on the implementation, effective use, upgrading, and ongoing maintenance of health information technology, including electronic health records, to health care providers in order to improve the quality of healthcare and protect the privacy and security of health information;
(E) utilization, when appropriate, of the expertise and capability that exists in Federal agencies other than the Department; and
(F) integration of health information technology, including electronic health records, into the initial and ongoing training of health professionals and others in the healthcare industry that would be instrumental to improving the quality of healthcare through the smooth and accurate electronic use and exchange of health information.
(4) Regional assistance
Each regional center shall aim to provide assistance and education to all providers in a region, but shall prioritize any direct assistance first to the following:
(C) Entities that are located in rural and other areas that serve uninsured, underinsured, and medically underserved individuals (regardless of whether such area is urban or rural).
(5) Financial support
The Secretary may provide financial support to any regional center created under this subsection for a period not to exceed four years. The Secretary may not provide more than 50 percent of the capital and annual operating and maintenance funds required to create and maintain such a center, except in an instance of national economic conditions which would render this cost-share requirement detrimental to the program and upon notification to Congress as to the justification to waive the cost-share requirement.
(6) Notice of program description and availability of funds
The Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register, not later than 90 days after February 17, 2009, a draft description of the program for establishing regional centers under this subsection. Such description shall include the following:
(A) A detailed explanation of the program and the programs  goals.
(7) Application review
The Secretary shall subject each application under this subsection to merit review. In making a decision whether to approve such application and provide financial support, the Secretary shall consider at a minimum the merits of the application, including those portions of the application regarding—
(A) the ability of the applicant to provide assistance under this subsection and utilization of health information technology appropriate to the needs of particular categories of health care providers;
(8) Biennial evaluation
Each regional center which receives financial assistance under this subsection shall be evaluated biennially by an evaluation panel appointed by the Secretary. Each evaluation panel shall be composed of private experts, none of whom shall be connected with the center involved, and of Federal officials. Each evaluation panel shall measure the involved center’s performance against the objective specified in paragraph (3). The Secretary shall not continue to provide funding to a regional center unless its evaluation is overall positive.
(9) Continuing support
After the second year of assistance under this subsection, a regional center may receive additional support under this subsection if it has received positive evaluations and a finding by the Secretary that continuation of Federal funding to the center was in the best interest of provision of health information technology extension services.
 So in original.
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