Nine get $2M for health information exchange

Connecting Communities for Better Health

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Nine communities nationwide will receive a combined $2 million to help develop electronic health information exchange projects.

The Connecting Communities for Better Health (CCBH) program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The program is administered by the Foundation for eHealth Initiative, a nonprofit group that advocates the use of IT to improve health care.

Selected from 134 applicants, the recipients include groups from Denver; Indianapolis; Milwaukee; the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., metropolitan area; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Fishkill, N.Y.; Kingsport, Tenn.; Bellingham, Wash.; and Waltham, Mass.

"The CCBH awards are historic because they represent a first in collaboration between the public and private sectors to support electronic health information exchange at the community level at a time when there is strong and growing support amongst all health care stakeholders ... for transforming our health care system from a paper-based enterprise to a modern, electronic model," Janet Marchibroda, executive director of the foundation, said in a press release.

HHS officials announced the awards today during the health care information technology summit in Washington, D.C. They also unveiled a 10-year, broad strategic plan to accelerate the adoption of electronic health records.

CCBH awardees will test and assess strategies to address challenges to using health IT and information exchange, including financial incentives, leveraging existing applications to support public health surveillance, exploring methods to accurately link patient data and share it across jurisdictions, and using information to support the prescribing process.

Findings will be sent to interested communities. At a press conference today, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said $50 million more in grants will be provided to five states this fall to conduct similar programs, with plans to double the investment next year.

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