Blumenthal praises R.I.'s HIT progress
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Healthcare organization Rhode Island Quality Institute was recognized as a national IT and HIE leader yesterday by David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health IT,  during a visit to Coastal Medical in East Providence, R.I.

The Providence-based Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI) had recently received two grants last month totaling $11.28 million from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT to advance adoption of meaningful use of health IT in the state of Rhode Island. “[Here in Rhode Island] I feel like I’m really at ground zero for the health IT revolution," said Blumenthal, who was accompanied on his visit by Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Patrick Kennedy. "You all have been such leaders showing the country what is possible to do when communities come together."

Whitehouse called RIQI’s statewide e-prescribing initiative just one of RIQI’s many accomplishments. “Started in 2003, [the project] has now networked every pharmacy in the state and become a nationwide model,” said Whitehouse. “We’re here today because of the institute’s work at building health IT infrastructure: a statewide HIE that will enable providers to collect, transmit and share in real time patient information. The $5 million HIE award funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 and ONC will enable RIQI to take a quantum leap forward in building out this HIE infrastructure."

“If the president wants to highlight a success in health IT, he needs to look no further than Rhode Island," said Kennedy. "With support and the $11 million, we hope to become the first state that’s totally interoperable."

“The great news is that no longer will it be the case that only the privileged few will get the best in evidence-based [healthcare]," Kennedy said. "Now evidence-based healthcare will be available to everybody because those evidence-based practices will be transparent to all physicians across the board no matter where they live."

Blumenthal noted that many other states are capable of achieving  the level of accomplishment that Rhode Island has reached. “States have a vital role in leading this process of creating HIE,” Blumenthal said. He then announced that an additional $162 million dollars will fund 16 states and territories under the ARRA for health IT adoption. Envisioning a “robust federal/state partnership,” Blumenthal said that “[t[he grants that we're making today are just as much about governance and leadership as they are about technology, and it’s the sustaining and motivating and supporting of that governance and making it visible to governors, to communities of states and to healthcare providers in the state that is one of the critical goals of the grants that we are announcing today.”