The Delta Regional Authority and Office of Health Information Technology will offer rural communities in Arkansas the opportunity to receive funding to connect their hospitals to the state’s electronic health records database. The funds will be available through the SHARE Connectivity Program. Awards will help designated critical access hospitals and small rural hospitals in 11 Delta counties as well as seven counties outside the Delta. They will be used to offset some of the costs of connecting the hospital’s health records systems with the statewide health information exchange known as SHARE (State Health Alliance for Records Exchange). Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority Chris Masingill says the program is much needed. “I firmly believe and cannot emphasize enough how important a step like this is for our state and our rural communities in achieving access to quality healthcare that all of our residents, we believe, deserve,” Masingill said. “These programs and our communities will be better connected to cutting-edge and cost-effective healthcare that we hope will improve health outcomes for the region, its workforce, and families.” Director of the Arkansas Office of Health Information Technology Ray Scott says a facility may do a great job of collecting information from a patient, but it usually stays with that facility. He explains how SHARE changes that. “It is a health information utility that will actually allow you’re clinical information to follow you from one point of care to the next, if these points of care are connected to SHARE,” Scott says. “All of that information will travel through this HIPAA compliant and secure network.” Up to $10,000 per facility will be awarded.