HHS awards $139 million to drive adoption of health care IT

The Health and Human Services Department today announced $139 million in grants and contracts to promote the use of health IT and take the department another step closer to electronic health records for all Americans.

"Increased adoption of information technology will speed the transformation of health care services in this nation," said HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson of the grants awarded by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The grants are intended to provide insight into how best to use health IT to:

* Improve patient safety by reducing medication errors

* Increase the use of shared health information among providers, laboratories, pharmacies and patients

* Help ensure safer patient transitions among health care settings including hospitals, doctors' offices and nursing homes

* Reduce duplicative and unnecessary testing.

The $139 million will be used to promote access to health care IT through more than 100 grants to communities, hospitals, providers and health care systems.

Colorado, Indiana, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Utah will receive $1 million each in the first year of the program to develop statewide networks that are secure, ensure privacy of health information and make a person's health information more available to health care providers. Funding could reach $25 million over five years.

To encourage adoption of health IT through sharing knowledge, the new National Health Information Technology Resource Center will design a repository for best practices and aid grantees with technical assistance and a focus for collaboration. The University of Chicago is developing the center with a $4 million, which could rise to $18.5 million.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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