Health IT gets a $220M funding transfusion

Program rewards communities 'on cutting edge'

The Health and Human Services Department has awarded $220 million to 15 organizations to run demonstration projects for health information technology. The pilot projects include health data exchanges and telemedicine programs.

The 15 non-profit organizations got money under the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement program and were selected from 130 applicants. They each will receive an average of approximately $15 million over three years.

Programs to be funded also include management of diabetes care and cancer screening, using decision-support tools and automated alerts, and patients' use of personal health record systems.

The 15 communities also will link with other federal health IT programs, including the Defense/Veterans Affairs’ program to create a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for all service members, said Dr. David Blumenthal, HHS national coordinator for health IT. The funding was announced May 4.

HHS plans to award an additional $30 million to more beacon communities in the near future, Blumenthal added.

"Today's awards will serve as a roadmap for how the government wants to address the use of technology in health care," said Roy Hadley, an attorney with Bryan Cave. "It appears that the government does not want the grants to just address the implementation of electronic medical records, but rather they are looking for the monies to help medical facilities use technology in order to achieve measurable results when treating diseases like diabetes and hypertension."

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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