Tuesday, April 6, 2010

HHS Awards $144 Million

HHS just announced two sets of awards totaling $144 million. The first set for $84 million went to 16 universities and junior colleges to support training and development for more than 50,000 new Health IT professionals. In addition, the second set for $60 million is going to support research and innovation at four advanced research institutions. Both award programs are being funded by the Recovery Act.

Of the $84 million, $36 million will go towards supporting the “Community College Consortia Program” to help five regional recipients establish a multi-institutional consortium within each region. The five regional consortia will include 70 community colleges and will create non-degree training programs that can be completed in six months or less by individuals with appropriate prior education and /or experience.

The grant awards will go to Bellevue College in Washington, Cuyahoga Community College District in Ohio, Los Rios Community College District in California, Pitt Community College in North Carolina, and Tidewater Community College in Virginia.

The “Curriculum Development Centers” program received $10 million to 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 available to other institutions of higher education across the country.

The funding will go to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Columbia University in New York, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and the Oregon Health & Science University.

In addition, $32 million is going to the “Assistance for University-Based Training” program to help produce professionals for highly specialized health IT roles. Most trainees in the program will complete intensive courses of study in 12 months or less and receive a university-issued certificate of advanced training.

The institutions to be part of the training program include Columbia University, University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing, Duke University, George Washington University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Minnesota, Oregon Health & Science University, and Texas State University.

One individual award of $6 million is going to Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia to support the development and initial administration of a set of health IT competency examinations. The program will create an objective measure to use to assess basic competency for individuals trained in short-term, non degree health IT programs and help the workforce demonstrate their competency in certain health IT roles.

The second part of the HHS funding announcement allows the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology through the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) program, to award $60 million to promote research and innovations. Fifteen million each was awarded to four recipients

The awards went to:

• Mayo Clinic of Medicine—To develop and use strategies for the secondary use of EHR data to improve the overall quality of healthcare while maintaining privacy and security
• Harvard University—To develop new and improved architectures to leverage the benefits of today’s architecture, focus the needs for the future, and address significant increases in data
• University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston—To harness the power of health IT so that it integrates, enhances, and supports clinicians reason and decision-making
• University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—Develop security and risk mitigation policies and the technologies necessary to build and preserve the public trust as health IT systems gain widespread use

These projects will be conducted by multidisciplinary teams led by recognized public and private sector leaders in health, including researchers, the technology industry, and healthcare providers. The results of these diverse teams work will be translated into practice to produce innovative health IT solutions that can be deployed nationwide. The goal is to quickly infuse the dynamic health IT sector with new thinking, ideas, and solutions.

Information on the awards made available through the workforce development program is available at http://HealthIT.HHS.gov and at www.grants.gov.