Minnesota financing program grants first EHR loans

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MDH offers loans to help facilitate EHR adoption. Source: Piper Report  

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has launched a financing program which will provide $6.3 million in no-interest EHR loans to hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other healthcare providers in the state’s rural and underserved communities as part of the state’s e-Health initiative to facilitate the purchase and implementation of interoperable EHRs.

MDH on Tuesday named the first two recipients of loans made under its Electronic Health Record Revolving Account and Loan Program. Swift County-Benson Hospital, Benson, and Mille Lacs Health System, Onamia, will borrow approximately a combined total of $2.4 million, the department said.

The state’s e-Health initiative also funds the Interconnected Electronic Health Record Grant Program, which will provide $7 million in EHR grants to rural and underserved populations, according to MDH.

Providers interested in loans undergo a two-step process, explained Anne Schloegel, a planner in the Office of Rural and Primary Care at MDH. She said the state must determine first if they meet specific criteria for the loan, then once deemed eligible, a loan application can be submitted.

According to Schloegel, providers must select a vendor before submitting their loan request, and each application must also include a detailed timeline with projections for the provider’s work plan, training, implementation and estimated time of completion. She also added that MDH will play an active role in helping providers stay on track as they replace their old systems with new ones.

There have been a fair number of inquiries about the program, said Schloegel, and other loan applications are currently under review. Each six-year loan is limited to $1.5 million and recipients have two years before they must begin the repayment process.

Minnesota law mandates EHR adoption by all healthcare providers starting in January 2015.