Engineering, business colleges partner to help improve health care in rural communities

The Dwight Look College of Engineering and the Mays Business School are partnering with The Rural and Community Health Institute at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, which has received a grant award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to form a Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (REC).The center will assist physicians and health care professionals in 47 central and east Texas counties in implementing electronic health records (EHRs). Associate Professor Andy Banerjee of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Arun Sen, professor of Information and Operations Management, are serving as co-principal investigators.The four-year effort has received an initial funding of $5,279,970 for the first two years.The REC will provide technical assistance, guidance and information on best practices for health care practitioners to become meaningful users of electronic health records. The Health Information Extension Program prioritizes access to health information technology for historically underserved and other special-needs populations and the use of that technology to achieve reduction in health disparities.Industrial and systems engineering tools will be extensively used in the project to analyze and improve information and personnel flows in medical practices during the implementation of electronic health records; assisting practices in the process of transitioning from paper to electronic records, choosing the most suitable EHR system, identifying data storage and information system requirements, and establishing security policies.