News Briefs: Week of Feb. 14-18

February 16, 2011 04:10 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

RWJ Foundation Continues Support for Pipeline Program into Medicine

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has renewed its support for the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program(www.smdep.org), or SMDEP, a national pipeline program that aims to increase diversity in medicine and dentistry.

The free, six-week summer program prepares certain college students for medical school or dental school by providing academic enrichment in the basic sciences and math, as well as clinical experiences, career development activities, learning and study skills seminars, and health policy and financial planning workshops.

Each of the 12 SMDEP sites across the country accepts 80 scholars. They are college freshmen and sophomores who are members of a racial or ethnic group that is underrepresented in medicine or dentistry, who come from disadvantaged circumstances, and who have an interest in issues affecting underserved populations.

To date, more than 4,600 program scholars have graduated from M.D.-granting institutions.

ONC Provides $12 Million in Grants to Help Hospitals Adopt Health IT

The federal government will provide an additional $12 million in new technical support assistance to help critical-access hospitals and rural hospitals adopt and become meaningful users of certified health information technology.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said it will allocate(www.hhs.gov) the funding through its regional extension center, or REC, program. The $12 million in funding is in addition to $20 million allocated in September 2010(www.hhs.gov) for RECs to provide technical assistance to critical-access and rural hospitals.

The new funding is provided by the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health, or HITECH, Act, which is a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The HITECH Act created electronic health record, or EHR, incentive programs, which will provide incentive payments via Medicare and Medicaid to eligible professionals, hospitals and critical-access hospitals that adopt and demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology.