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ONC still putting cash behind its priorities

While the Obama administration may be nearing lame duck status, its health IT arm, ONC, is still doling out money to people doing things that align with the agency’s goals of the moment.

In this case, ONC announced this week it is releasing more than $38 million to organizations working in health information exchange (HIE) and interoperability; peer learning in population health management; and, in one of ONC’s newest target areas, workforce training for introducing health IT into long-term care facilities, patient-centered medical homes and .

All told, 20 awardees in 19 states, including 12 state-based HIEs, will share three grants funded by the Health Information Technology and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).

“Like interoperability, the success of these programs is a priority but really only a means to an end. These programs and the communities participating in them will help us move toward a world in which health IT and interoperability enable better care and better health,” ONC’s chief medical officer, Thomas Mason, M.D., said in the agency’s blog, HealthITBuzz.

Some efforts funded by the grant money — particularly advancing interoperability, HIE, community peer learning, and workforce development programs —  also align with ONC’s Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap and Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, official versions of which are slated to be released soon, Mason said.

The interoperability and HIE grants have these objectives, according to ONC:

  • Expand the adoption of HIE technology, tools and services
  • Enable the send, receive, find and use capabilities of health information across organizations, vendors and geographic boundaries
  • Increase interoperability to support caregiving and decision making

The workforce training programs will cover:

  • Population health
  • Care coordination
  • New care delivery and payment models
  • Value-based and patient-centered care

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Good to see the Granite State get a grant. Hope NH officials put the money to good use. Money is needed in that rural state for health care but NH is the type of state where it is a hot debate over whether to hike the cigarette tax. In my opinion, there is no better way to raise money for health care than hiking the cigarette tax.