HHS pumps $60M into research on health IT adoption

Researchers can look at privacy, security and information exchange concerns

The Health and Human Services Department today announced a $60 million research program to help identify and address the barriers to adoption of electronic health records.

Dr. David Blumenthal, HHS’ national coordinator for health information technology, said applicants are invited to apply to the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) program to evaluate how to overcome hurdles to widespread adoption of digital records.

The funding will be used for “focused research in critical areas where breakthrough advances are needed to address existing barriers to the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology,” according to a news release. Four-year cooperative agreements will be awarded.

The critical areas include addressing security and risk mitigation needs with policies and technology, and developing patient-centered approaches that can align the digitization of records with clinical care.

In addition, researchers may look at developing new and improved IT architectures to facilitate secure and private health data exchanges, or they may evaluate secondary uses of electronic health records to improve overall health care, population health and clinical research while also protecting patient privacy.

Awardees are expected to implement a collaborative, interdisciplinary program with cooperation among researchers, health care providers, and other health IT sector stakeholders.

Applications are due Jan. 25, 2010, with awards anticipated in March. Additional information and applications are available at the HHS health IT Web site.

The economic stimulus law provided $20 billion to advance health IT adoption, mostly through incentive payments to doctors and hospitals that purchase and use certified digital record systems. The department also recently beefed up Blumenthal's office to handle the expanded workload.


About the Author

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

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