Healthy spending

HHS sends $411 mil­lion to grass-roots IT projects

Modern Healthcare - - The Week In Healthcare - Joseph Conn and Mau­reen McKin­ney

The $411 mil­lion awarded by HHS for health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is planned to ease the jour­ney for pri­mary-care providers, en­cour­age re­search for ad­vances in the long term and ad­vance the ef­fort to train ex­perts in health IT.

HHS health IT awards an­nounced since April 2 were: $267 mil­lion in fund­ing for re­gional ex­ten­sion cen­ters; $60 mil­lion for ad­vanced re­search projects (April 5, p. 4); $36 mil­lion for de­vel­op­ing com­mu­nity col­lege train­ing pro­grams; $32 mil­lion for uni­ver­sity-level train­ing; $10 mil­lion for cur­ricu­lum de­vel­op­ment in the com­mu­nity col­lege pro­gram; and $6 mil­lion for the de­vel­op­ment and ini­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion of a health IT com­pe­tency pro- gram. Fund­ing comes from the Amer­i­can Re­cov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act of 2009, also known as the stim­u­lus law.

The money al­lo­cated to 28 re­gional ex­ten­sion cen­ters is a sec­ond wave of awards, and fol­lows $375 mil­lion awarded to 32 cen­ters in Fe­bru­ary. “We rec­og­nize that small hos­pi­tals, es­pe­cially dur­ing dif­fi­cult times, have trou­ble find­ing the re­sources and ex­per­tise needed to be­come adept at us­ing health IT,” said David Blu­men­thal, na­tional co­or­di­na­tor for health IT, in an April 6 con­fer­ence call.

The ex­ten­sion cen­ters will pro­vide tech­ni­cal sup­port ser­vices and in­for­ma­tion to at least 100,000 providers dur­ing the next two years, HHS said in a news release. Staff at the cen­ters will ac­tively re­cruit providers, as­sist them in choos­ing and im­ple­ment­ing elec­tronic health-record sys­tems, and will also help them band to­gether to get bet­ter rates from ven­dors, Blu­men­thal said on the con­fer­ence call. Fol­low­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion, cen­ters may ramp up in­volve­ment, sched­ul­ing monthly check-ins for work­flow ad­just­ments and re­designs.

HHS an­nounced that all 60 cen­ters would also be able to ap­ply for funds from a $25 mil­lion sup­ple­men­tal ex­pan­sion pro­gram cre­ated to pro­vide health IT sup­port ser­vices to crit­i­cal-ac­cess and ru­ral hos­pi­tals with 50 beds or fewer.

The train­ing funds are de­signed to sup­port the use of EHRs. “The in­sti­tu­tions re­ceiv­ing awards to­day will de­velop nec­es­sary road maps to help health­care providers and hos­pi­tals im­ple­ment and ef­fec­tively use elec­tronic health records,” Blu­men­thal said in a writ­ten state­ment.

Charles Fried­man, chief sci­en­tific of­fi­cer at the Of­fice of the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for Health In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, said he ex­pects re­sults in a few years from the Strate­gic Health IT Ad­vanced Re­search Projects. “You never know what’s go­ing to re­sult from what you fund di­rectly, but I can tell you now, the syn­er­gies have an enor­mous chance of pay­ing div­i­dends above and be­yond the fund­ing of th­ese groups,” Fried­man said.

Fried­man: Projects likely to re­sult in great div­i­dends.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.