HHS to award $235M in health IT grants to local communities

Beacon Community Program to fund digital health record adoption in 15 communities

The Health and Human Services Department is starting a new grant program to distribute $235 million to communities that can serve as models for use of electronic health records (EHRs).

Through the Beacon Communites Program, HHS will be awarding $220 million to 15 communities that have demonstrated high levels of digital health record usage, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today in a news release. Another $15 million will go for technical assistance and independent evaluation services to those areas.

“These communities are best-positioned to lead the way in accomplishing meaningful use of electronic health record systems, and to provide valuable lessons to other localities on the preferred approaches to elevating the performance of local health systems using health [information technology],” David Blumenthal, HHS’ Health IT National Coordinator said.

The grants will pay for building and strengthening health IT infrastructures and health information exchange, including privacy and security measures. The goal is to use digital records to improve health care quality and efficiency while reducing costs.

HHS officials said applications for the Beacon Communities Program grants will be available in the near future. The program is funded under the economic stimulus law.

In a related effort to advance health IT, the stimulus law provided $20 billion in incentives to providers who purchase and "meaningfully use" certified EHR systems. HHS is preparing rulemaking by year’s end to specify standards for the certifications and meaningful use, along with privacy and security rules and quality measurements.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group