Texans in rural areas will soon have access to higher quality health care, thanks to faculty members at A&M and grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grants will be used to implement electronic health records (EHR) systems in small and rural health care facilities, through the newly created regional extension centers.

The CentrEast Regional Extension Center, still in development, is located at Texas A&M. Arun Sen, professor of information and operations management at Mays, and two A&M colleagues are involved in creating the center, which will assist physicians offices in creating a paperless pipeline of health information.

The HHS grants were awarded to 46 regional extension centers around the U.S., including the four such centers in Texas. The CentrEast center received a grant of $384,000 for the rural initiative.

By converting to EHR technology, rural health care facilities can qualify for substantial additional incentive payments from Medicare or Medicaid. These electronic records will bring higher quality care to patients by reducing medical errors and costs, say experts.

Sen says that soon health care information will be available via an electronic pipeline that will move patient records from local to state to national levels. The National Health Information Network is already under development. Sen and A&M colleagues Robert Morrow of Rural and Community Health Institute (RCHI) and Amarnath Banerjee of Look College of Engineering at A&M are creating the system through which Texas health care providers will upload patient information to this national system. The team of researchers from A&M will be on the leading edge of designing an electronic health record system to be used for the state.