HHS Awards $144 Million in Recovery Act Funds
Washington, D. C.— 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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.