The $1.3 million grant was awarded to the Scott County Economic Development Authority in partnership with OnePartner.
Those funds — coupled with $2.5 million from OnePartner — will be used to install the hardware and software needed to securely store and transfer electronic medical records (EMRs).
“This is just another example of how the commission has been able to maximize their funds and also continue to not just bring Southwest Virginia to a level playing field with the rest of the country, but actually surpass the rest of the country in the realm of EMR infrastructure,” said Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City. Kilgore is vice chairman of the Virginia Tobacco Commission.
OnePartner Director Tom Deadrick said the infrastructure improvements would let the data center provide subsidized electronic medical records services for health departments across Virginia.
“We’re going to stand up this EMR system and provide this EMR solution to at least two health department locations — one in Southwest Virginia and one in Southside Virginia,” said Deadrick. “Our long-term goal is to provide support for all 37 health departments in Virginia.”
Deadrick said the electronic medical records system will require between seven and 11 servers to support it.
The EMR program should generate three new jobs, although several upcoming analytic programs could up that number anywhere from 40 to 90 new positions, Deadrick said.
As a result, OnePartner has partnered with local colleges — like Mountain Empire Community College and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise — to develop programs to train potential employees.
In addition to working with health departments, OnePartner will provide the electronic medical records service to private physicians, allowing them to access the data center’s capabilities through secure partitions.
Deadrick said this would allow OnePartner to “decrease the monthly payment for physicians that sign up for this as more come onboard.”
Revenues collected from private doctors will be used to subsidize implementation of the electronic medical records systems for public health providers in a sustainable way, he said.
The Tobacco Commission’s grant also lays the foundation for OnePartner to be designated a regional extension center, he said.
Such a designation would give the data center access to funds identified in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to facilitate the transition to electronic medical records.
The average federal contract for regional extension centers is $8.9 million.
Regional extension centers will assist physicians groups in several states with the selection, implementation and long-term support of electronic medical records systems.
“We have a better way. We really believe in it,” Deadrick said. “We know that it works because we’ve proven it in the region, and we know that we can do great things not only for this region, but everybody in the surrounding areas as well.”