Monday, February 15, 2010

Grants to Advance IT & Training

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced nearly $1 billion in Recovery Act awards are available to help healthcare providers adopt health IT and to help the Department of Labor train healthcare workers for future jobs. The awards will make health IT available to over 100,000 hospitals and primary care physicians by 2014.

Dr. David Blumenthal National Coordinator for HIT reports of the $750 million available in HHS grants, $386 million will go to 40 states and qualified State-Designated Entities. The goal is to rapidly build the capacity needed to exchange health information through the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program.

The funds will be used to help the states implement plans for statewide HIEs by providing for governance, policies, and the technical services needed to support HIEs. The awards will be used to encourage the states to participate in the Nationwide Health Information Network.

In addition, $375 million will create 32 Regional Extension Centers (REC) to support health professionals become meaningful users of EHRs. The RECs will deliver outreach, education, and technical assistance services to healthcare providers in their regions. Each REC will focus on physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners who work as part of individual and small group primary care practices as well as help those that provide healthcare to the underserved. The RECs are expected to hire over 3,000 technology workers nationwide in the month ahead.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced that $227 million will be used to train 15,000 people in the job skills needed in the healthcare, IT, and other high growth fields. Through existing partnerships with local employers, the recipients of these grants have already identified roughly 10,000 job openings for skilled workers likely to become available in the next two years.

The grants will fund 55 initiatives in 30 states for health IT training programs. These programs will be sponsored by community colleges, local education providers, and universities. The Department of Labor expects freshly trained workers to find jobs, but in addition, the Department will provide employment services via their local One Stop Career Centers.

The HHS and DOL awards are part of an overall $100 billion investment in science, innovation, and technology that the Administration is making through the Recovery Act to create jobs in growing industries.

Go to for a complete list of the awardees.