[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/20/art.bidenstim0820.gi.jpg caption="The office of Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday that $1.2 billion in grants for electronic health records is available."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nearly $1.2 billion in grants from the $787 billion stimulus bill are being made available to help fund use of electronic health records, the office of Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday.
Roughly half of the $1.2 billion is designated to help establish approximately 70 regional centers across the country that will provide assistance to hospitals and medical professionals in selecting and using electronic records. The grant program will provide funding for the regional centers for four years beginning with the federal government's 2010 fiscal year.
The administration expects that the centers will be self-sustaining at the end of those four years, according to material from HHS circulated Thursday by Biden's office.
The remaining $600 million in grants is designated to fund efforts at the state level to come up with mechanisms for information exchange involving electronic health records.
"The grants are designed to help doctors and hospitals acquire electronic health records and use them in meaningful ways to improve the health of patients and reduce waste and inefficiency," Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said in the statement.