Friday, April 2, 2010

HHS/ONC Awards $144 Million in Funds

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has enlisted the talent and resources of some of the nation’s leading universities, community colleges, and major research centers to advance the widespread adoption and meaningful use of health information technology (health IT).

Awards totaling $84 million to 16 universities and junior colleges will support training and development of more than 50,000 new health IT professionals. Additionally Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) awards totaling $60 million were provided to four advanced research institutions ($15 million each) to focus on solving current and future challenges that represent barriers to adoption and meaningful use of health IT. Both sets of awards are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Today’s awards are part of the $2 billion effort to achieve widespread meaningful use of health IT and provide for the use of an electronic health record (EHR) for each person in the United States by 2014.

“Training a cadre of new health IT professionals and breaking down barriers to the adoption of meaningful use of health IT are both critical to the national effort to use information technology to realize better patient care,” stated David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, national coordinator for health information technology. “The institutions receiving awards today will develop necessary roadmaps to help health care providers and hospitals implement and effectively use electronic health records.”

Workforce Award recipients, by program area, include:

Community College Consortia Program ($36 million):
The Community College Consortia Program provides assistance to five regional recipients to establish a multi-institutional consortium within each designated region. The five regional consortia will include 70 community colleges in total. Each college will create non-degree training programs that can be completed in six months or less by individuals with appropriate prior education and/or experience. First year grant awards are estimated at $36 million. An additional $34 million is available for year two funding of these programs after successful completion of a mid-project evaluation.
Institution Amount of Award
Bellevue College, Bellevue, Wash. $ 3,364,798
Cuyahoga Community College District, Cleveland, Ohio $ 7,531,403
Los Rios Community College District, Sacramento, Calif. $ 5,435,587
Pitt Community College, Winterville, N.C. $10,901,009
Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, Va. $ 8,492,793

Curriculum Development Center ($10 million):
The Curriculum Development Centers will develop educational materials for key health IT topics to be used by the members of the Community College Consortia program. The materials will also be made available to institutions of higher education across the country. One of the centers will receive additional assistance to act as the National Training and Dissemination Center (NTDC) for the curriculum materials.
Institution Amount of Award
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Ala. $1,820,000
The Trustees of Columbia University, New York City, N.Y. $1,820,000
Duke University, Durham, N.C. $1,820,000
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. $1,820,000
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Ore. $2,720,000*
*Will also receive the NTDC award.

University-Based Training Programs ($32 million):
The University-Based Training programs will produce trained professionals for vital, highly specialized health IT roles. Most trainees in these programs will complete intensive courses of study in 12-months or less and receive a university-issued certificate of advanced training. Other trainees supported by these grants will study toward masters’ degrees.
Institution Amount of Award
The Trustees of Columbia University, New York City, N.Y. $3,786,677
University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing, Denver, Colo. $2,622,186
Duke University, Durham, N.C. $2,167,121
George Washington University, District of Columbia $4,612,313
Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind. $1,406,469
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. $3,752,512
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. $5,145,705
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Ore. $3,085,812
Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas $5,421,205

Competency Examination Program ($6 million):
This program will support the development and initial administration of a set of health IT competency examinations. The program will create an objective measure to assess basic competency for individuals trained in short-term, non degree health IT programs and for members of the workforce seeking to demonstrate their competency in certain health IT workforce roles.
Institution Amount of Award
Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale, Va. $6,000,000

Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) Program ($60 million):
The SHARP program recognizes the critical importance of research to support improvements in the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare by creating “breakthrough” advances in information technology. The SHARP program targets four areas where improvements in technology are needed. The four SHARP award recipients, their areas of research focus and funding are:
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ill. - Security of Health Information Technology – Developing security and risk mitigation policies and the technologies necessary to build and preserve the public trust as Health IT systems gain widespread use. $15 million.
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Texas - Patient-Centered Cognitive Support – Harnessing the power of Health IT so that it integrates with, enhances and supports clinicians’ reasoning and decision-making. $15 million.
  • President and Fellows of Harvard College, Boston, Mass. - Healthcare Application and Network Platform Architectures – Developing new and improved architectures that will leverage benefits of today’s architecture and focus on the flexibility and scalability needs for the future to address significant increases in capture, storage and analysis of data. $15 million.
  • Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. – Secondary Use of EHR Data– Strategies to make use of data that will be stored in EHRs for improving the overall quality of health care, while maintaining data privacy and security. $15 million.
Information about the HITECH awards available through the workforce development program is available at and

The following was sent out via email from the ONC:

Research and Innovation that Translates into Practice

 Message from Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

April 2, 2010

Our quest to improve the health of Americans and the performance of our health care system depends critically on the use of electronic health records (EHRs) and the electronic exchange of health information. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has created a solid foundation of programs and initiatives to support health care practitioners and hospitals in implementing meaningful use of certified EHR technology, but we are admittedly at the beginning of our journey. ONC is keenly aware that technology needs to continuously advance, bringing new solutions that will make it even more beneficial. While I’m proud of what ONC has achieved so far, I’m humbled by the size of the task still in front of us. The HITECH Act — in its very design — clearly recognized a need for progressive and innovative thinking to overcome barriers and ensure the long-term viability of our health care system. 
To this end, today ONC launched a major initiative aimed at promoting research and innovation. Four  renowned institutions — Mayo Clinic of MedicineHarvard UniversityUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at Houston,  and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — were awarded research grants totaling $60 million through the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP)program.
Each institution’s research projects will identify short-term and long-term solutions to address key challenges, including ensuring the security of health IT (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), enabling patient-centered cognitive support for clinicians (The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston), making progress toward new health care application and network-platform architectures (Harvard University), and promoting the secondary use of EHR data while maintaining privacy and security (Mayo Clinic of Medicine).
These projects will be conducted by multidisciplinary teams led by recognized public and private sector leaders in health, including researchers, the technology industry, and health care providers. The results of these diverse teams’ work will be translated into practice to produce innovative health IT solutions that can be deployed nationwide.  This is not ivory tower research; its goal is to quickly infuse the dynamic health IT sector with new thinking, ideas, and solutions.
The SHARP grants announced today represent an important investment in the long-term future of health care for our nation. I am excited by the promise of these projects to fundamentally change the trajectory of health IT in support of better health and care.


David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

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