News Briefs: Homeless Health Goes Hi-Tech

Published November 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 10

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced $2 million in grants for two health information technology initiatives in Colorado. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless received $1,865,625 to implement electronic health records (EHRs), while the Colorado Community Managed Care Network, which serves 62 clinics in Colorado, received $250,000 to improve existing electronic health records. The CCH’s Stout Street Clinic has been operating in downtown Denver for almost 25 years, delivering healthcare to the homeless. The CCMCN’s patients are low-income and primarily medically underserved. Senators Mark Udal and Michael Bennet applauded the announcement of the grants, saying that the money will cut health care costs and reduce medical errors in Colorado, and also lead to better outcomes for the thousands of patients the two organizations serve every year. Detractors of EHRs warn that the electronic systems are not as efficient as they have been touted to be, and have led to misclassifications of illnesses by limiting diagnosis to check boxes on a form. The grants are part of $27.8 million in total grants announced in late September by the Department of Health and Human Services and provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

-- Sarah Harvey