HIMSS15: ONC grant to boost community health data sharing efforts

Community health exchange is set to receive a financial boost thanks to a Health and Human Services Department initiative announced Tuesday afternoon at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference in Chicago.

For the initiative, HHS will provide $1 million in grant funds geared toward improving the flow of information for as many as 10 community organizations, state or local government agencies or other community groups. National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo told reporters at a press conference that the funds will be available to a variety of providers, including those not participating in the electronic health record incentive programs, such as behavioral health professionals.

The funds will be "designed to spur innovation around building data that is person centered and community centered and bringing in players that are not the traditional players," DeSalvo said. "These are meant to ... challenge the community to ... come up with new, innovative ideas or to advance ideas that are really thinking beyond just the EHR or just the traditional players."

This grant announcement comes on the heels of several other recent grant announcements made by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. For instance, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced at ONC's annual meeting in February a two-year grant program for $28 million to advance the adoption and use of interoperable health IT tools and services to support health information exchange. The agency will bestow as many as 12 new awards in the form of cooperative agreements to states, territories or state designated entities to continue work under the same intent as the original State Health Information Exchange Program.

Also in February, DeSalvo announced that $1.7 million will go toward funding a community health peer learning program that will leverage information from the Beacon Community Program. An additional $6.4 million will go toward expanding existing curricula and work already completed in ONC's workforce training program, DeSalvo said at the time.

To learn more:
- read the announcement