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INHS receives $15.7 million grant for diabetes network

Tue., May 4, 2010, 2:42 p.m.

A $15.7 million federal grant is expected to bolster medical services for diabetics living in Eastern Washington.

Spokane-based Inland Northwest Health Services is receiving the federal stimulus funds and intends to work with rural clinics to set up information exchange systems that will enable doctors, specialists and hospitals to share electronic medical records.

Many regional hospitals have been participating in such technology for years, said Jac Davies, an INHS program director with responsibilities for the grant. What’s been missing is bringing individual doctors and clinics aboard.

The grant will serve as seed money for the project, which includes putting some computer hardware and software in doctors’ offices. The money also will pay for training and setting up a system to track groups of patients with chronic illnesses who are treated by multiple doctors, Davies said.

Such patients are more likely to receive redundant medical tests and other services and suffer from medication errors.

The focus on diabetes strikes at one of the nation’s fastest-growing health problems.

The grant was among 15 health information awards totaling $220 million announced Tuesday.

It’s a field within health care that is expected to quickly grow.

The projects receiving grants are expected to create dozens of new jobs — with average salaries of about $70,000 — in each of the 15 communities. The work is expected to speed the development of a nationwide health information technology system that could one day employ tens of thousands of people, according to a press release from the White House.

There were 130 applications for the grants.

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