ONC and HHS Announce $28 Million for Interoperability, HIE Efforts

The federal government is investing $28 million in grant funding for state health information exchange programs in an effort to boost interoperability. In a blog post, Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, national coordinator for health IT, wrote that Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell announced the department-wide effort to improve secure health information exchange as described in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) Interoperability Roadmap.

The funding will be divided into 10 to 12 new awards doled out to state-designated health information exchange entities, according to DeSalvo’s blog post.

“As part of the program, we seek to enable send, receive, find, and use health information in a manner that is appropriate, secure, timely, and reliable for both sender and receiver,” DeSalvo writes, and continues to identify potential use cases for the funding.

“Through this funding opportunity, grantees will continue to leverage the investments and lessons learned from the earlier Health Information Exchange Programs to advance the standardized, secure, and interoperable movement of health information across organizations, vendors, and geographic boundaries. Grantees will address interoperability workflow challenges, technical issues, and improve the meaningful use of clinical data from external sources,” DeSalvo wrote.

This award announcement is welcome news for an industry that has been frustrated by the lack of interoperability, which has hindered initiatives like the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program.

In a report to Congress submitted in October 2014, ONC explained that “Electronic health information is not yet sufficiently standardized to allow seamless interoperability, as it is still inconsistently expressed through technical and medical vocabulary, structure, and format, thereby limiting the potential uses of the information to improve health and care.”

Click here to read about the new grant opportunities.

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