Multiple community colleges and four-year universities have received a total of $144 million in stimulus funding to support programs aimed at achieving widespread adoption and meaningful use of health information technology.

Five community regional consortia representing 70 community colleges have received a total of $36 million to develop non-degree health I.T. training programs that can be completed within six months. An additional $34 million is available in second-year funds pending a successful mid-project evaluation. The consortia are in Bellevue, Washington; Cleveland; Sacramento, Calif.; Winterville, N.C.; and Norfolk, Va.

Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale has received a $6 million grant to develop a set of health I.T. competency examinations covering the non-degree programs and for others seeking to demonstrate competency in certain health I.T. roles.

Five universities have received a total of $10 million to develop educational materials for the community college consortia program and to universities across the nation. The grantees are University of Alabama at Birmingham, Columbia University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University and Oregon Health & Science University.

Nine universities will use grants totaling $32 million to develop trained professionals for highly specialized health I.T. roles. Most trainees will complete intensive courses in 12 months or less and receive a university-issued certificate of advanced training. Some trainees will use grants to study toward masters' degrees. Universities receiving the funds include Columbia University, University of Colorado/Denver College of Nursing, Duke University, George Washington University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Minnesota, Oregon Health & Science University and Texas State University.

Another $60 million is awarded to four universities, at $15 million each, to support the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects program, called SHARP. The program will focus on four areas to address barriers to the adoption and meaningful use of information technology. The areas are security and risk mitigation, consumer health, new application and network architectures, and enhanced secondary use of electronic health records data.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will develop security and risk mitigation policies and technologies to build public trust as health I.T. gains widespread adoption. The University of Texas Health Science Center will work on patient-centered cognitive support to enhance clinicians' reasoning and decision-making. President and Fellows of Harvard College will develop new architectures to address significant increase in the capture, storage and analysis of data. Mayo Clinic will develop strategies for secondary use of electronic records data while maintaining privacy and security. "This is not ivory tower research; its goal is to quickly infuse the dynamic health I.T. sector with new thinking, ideas and solutions," says David Blumenthal, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology.

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--Joseph Goedert


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