The Department of Health and Human Services is making $235 million in stimulus funding available to 15 "Beacon Communities" to accelerate and demonstrate the benefits of health information technology.

The program is funded under the $2 billion in "jump start" immediate funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program will provide $220 million in grants to 15 communities to build and strengthen their health I.T. infrastructure and health information exchange capabilities. Another $15 million will be provided for technical assistance.

The selected communities will be expected to have rates of EHR adoption that are significantly higher than published national estimates, says David Blumenthal, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology. "These communities are best positioned to lead the way in accomplishing meaningful use of EHRs and to provide valuable lessons to other localities on the preferred approaches to elevating the performance of local health systems using health I.T.," he wrote in the latest in a series of updates to the industry (click here).

The Beacon Communities also will be expected to coordinate with the regional extension center and state health information exchange programs, and maximize efforts by leveraging other existing federal programs.

Applications for funding are due on Feb. 1, 2010. Awards are anticipated in March 2010 and programs will last for three years. For more information, visit grants.gov/search/basic.do, and enter 93.727 in the CFDA box.

--Joseph Goedert

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