HHS releases $144M to colleges to promote health IT adoption

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Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has enlisted the resources of U.S. universities, community colleges and research centers to encourage the adoption and meaningful use of health IT with the release of $144 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.

According to the agency, awards totaling $84 million to 16 universities and junior colleges will support training and development of more than 50,000 new health IT professionals. In addition, Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) awards totaling $60 million were provided to four 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 ARRA.

The SHARP program seeks to support research improvements in quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare through IT. The program targets four areas where improvements in technology are needed. The four SHARP award recipients and their areas of research focus are:
  • University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for health IT security: Developing security and risk mitigation policies and the technologies to build and preserve the public trust as health IT systems gain widespread use.
  • University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston for patient-centered cognitive support through health IT to enhance and support clinicians’ reasoning and decision-making.
  • President and fellows of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., for healthcare application and network platform architectures: Developing new and improved architectures to focus on the scalability needs to address future increases in capture, storage and analysis of data.
  • Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for secondary use of EHR data: Strategies to make use of data that will be stored in EHRs for improving the quality of healthcare, while maintaining data privacy and security.

The community college consortia program, which totaled $36 million, 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. 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 completion of a mid-project evaluation.

Institution

 

Amount of Award

Bellevue College in Bellevue, Wash.

 

$ 3,364,798

Cuyahoga Community College District in Cleveland

 

$ 7,531,403

Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento, Calif.

 

$ 5,435,587

Pitt Community College in Winterville, N.C.

 

$10,901,009

Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Va.

 

$ 8,492,793


The curriculum development centers, which totaled $10 million, will develop educational materials for health IT topics to be used by the members of the community college consortia program. The materials will be made available to institutions of higher education across the U.S. One of the centers will receive additional assistance to act as the National Training and Dissemination Center for the curriculum materials.

Institution

 

Amount of Award

University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala.

 

$1,820,000

Trustees of Columbia University in New York City

 

$1,820,000

Duke University in Durham, N.C.

 

$1,820,000

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore

 

$1,820,000

Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore.

 

$2,720,000


The university-based training program, which totaled $32 million, will seek to produce trained professionals for specialized health IT roles. Most trainees in the programs will intensive courses of study in 12-months or less and receive a university-issued certificate of training. Other trainees supported by these grants will study toward masters’ degrees.

Institution

 

Amount of Award

Trustees of Columbia University in New York City

 

$3,786,677

University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing in Denver

 

$2,622,186

Duke University in Durham, N.C.

 

$2,167,121

George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

 

$4,612,313

Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

 

$1,406,469

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore

 

$3,752,512

University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

 

$5,145,705

Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore.

 

$3,085,812

Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

 

$5,421,205


The competency exam program will support the development and initial administration of a set of health IT competency exams. The program will create a measure to assess 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. The award of $6 million was granted to Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va.