At least 500 hospitals will receive help meeting at least one meaningful use objective thanks to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant awarded to the American Hospital Assn., the College of American Pathologists and the health information network Surescripts. The two-year, $4.9 million grant, announced Feb. 21, will help the hospitals satisfy electronic public health data reporting requirements under meaningful use by connecting them electronically to a shared network. Criteria to qualify for meaningful use incentives for the implementation of electronic medical records include the ability of hospitals to transmit data electronically on reportable lab tests to public health agencies. Hospitals that meet meaningful use requirements under the Medicare or Medicaid incentive programs could receive at least $2 million in bonuses. Physicians can receive as much as $44,000 over five years in Medicare bonuses or up to $63,750 over six years in Medicaid bonuses by meeting meaningful use criteria. The three grant recipients will work together to recruit, educate and connect more than 500 hospitals -- 100 of which will be critical access or rural hospitals -- during the two-year grant period. The American Hospital Assn. will do the actual recruiting. Tony Burke, senior vice president and CEO of the AHA, said the organization is looking for hospitals already on the pathway to meaningful use. The AHA will create a website for hospitals to learn about selection criteria and sign up. Burke said this connection of lab data and public health departments will "come back and help inform and guide the work of hospitals and prepare them for issues and circumstances that they need to be privy to." The CDC has promoted electronic data reporting for the past several years as a way to improve timeliness and report and reduce errors caused by the manual entry of data. "The CDC is delighted to work with this diverse cooperative," said Seth Foldy, MD, MPH, director of the Public Health Informatics and Technology Program Office at the organization. "As a result of this effort, hundreds of hospitals will engage in electronic reporting that helps public health act more rapidly and efficiently to control disease." The full and original article can be found at: