HHS, ONC Announce Grants To Bolster Interoperability, Health IT

On Tuesday, HHS announced a new $28 million grant program to bolster the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s plan to increase adoption and use of interoperable health IT tools to better support health data exchange, FierceHealthIT reports.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced the two-year program at ONC’s Annual Meeting, less than a week after ONC released a draft of its 10-year nationwide interoperability roadmap (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 2/3).

According to a blog post, ONC said the program will award up to 12 cooperative agreement grants to allow states, territories and state-designated entities to continue work under guidelines similar to the original State Health Information Exchange Program (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 2/3). The awards also will be available to providers who are ineligible for the meaningful use programs.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers that demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (DeSalvo/Haque [1], “Health IT Buzz,” 2/3).

Burwell said grantees will be asked to “demonstrate innovative, community-based solutions to advance standardize[d], secure and interoperable movement of health information across organizations, vendors and geographic boundaries” (FierceHealthIT, 2/3).

ONC Announces Health IT Workforce, Community Grants

In related news, ONC announced a separate grant opportunity to strengthen health IT at the community level and bolster the health IT workforce, FierceHealthIT reports.

Specifically, the funding opportunity will award up to:

  • $6.4 million for health IT workforce training; and
  • $1.7 million for health IT innovations to improve community-wide population health (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 2/3).

The Workforce Training Program will update educational and training materials from the original Workforce Curriculum Development Program, with a focus on four areas:

  • Care coordination;
  • Population health;
  • New care delivery and payment models; and
  • Value-based care.

Meanwhile, the Community Health Peer Learning Program will allow communities to collaborate with various experts to improve population health through health IT tools and services. Participants in the program will be responsible for:

  • Contributing to a national strategy to improve population health;
  • Identifying actionable and measurable work plans using data; and
  • Sharing best practices and learning guides.

The program will expand upon the 17 ONC-funded Beacon Communities (DeSalvo/Haque [2], “Health IT Buzz,” 2/3). The 2009 federal economic stimulus package included funds for Beacon Community grants aimed at helping health care providers use health IT in their communities (iHealthBeat, 10/29/14).

Source: iHealthBeat, Wednesday, February 4, 2015
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