July 31, 2006—A health care IT initiative in Minnesota will provide $1.3 million in grants for community collaborative projects to develop electronic health care records systems in rural and medically under-served areas. Authorized by the 2006 Minnesota state legislature, the program is designed to support both health care providers and public health agencies that cannot fully afford the conversion from paper to electronic records.

The grant program requires that three or more unrelated health care organizations in a community work together, and that participating communities provide a $1 match for every $3 of state funding received. Two types of collaborative projects will be funded: those assessing which technology makes the most sense for the community, and those implementing a selected technology.

“We know from experience around the country that collaboration across organizations in a community is critical to the successful implementation of systems and for the community to truly benefit,” said Martin LaVenture, MD, director of health informatics, Minnesota Department of Health.

—Cat Vasko