The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is making available $28 million in grants to increase adoption and use of interoperable health IT tools and services that support exchange of health information.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced the funding on Tuesday at ONC’s Annual Meeting in Washington as “another step that we’re taking to move the ball forward on interoperability and information sharing.” The new grants follow the Jan. 30 release of the ONC draft Interoperability Roadmap and a companion Standards Advisory meant to guide nationwide interoperability.

“This two-year grant program will ask awardees to demonstrate innovative community-based solutions to advance standardized, secure, and interoperable movement of health information across organization, vendor, and geographic boundaries,” said Burwell.

As part of the funding, 10 to 12 new awards will be made in the form of cooperative agreements to states, territories, or state designated entities to continue work under the earlier State Health Information Exchange Program to accelerate adoption and use of HIE infrastructure. Grantees will address interoperability workflow challenges, technical issues, and improve the meaningful use of clinical data from external sources, according to ONC.

“A variety of use cases could fall into this definition including a long-term care provider’s ability to access lab results or radiological films after a patient was discharged from a hospital, as is the case in Colorado, or by linking the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Plan, as has been done in Maryland,” writes National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, M.D., in a Feb. 3 blog.

ONC also announced on Tuesday two other grants worth $6.4 million and $1.7 million, respectively: the Workforce Training to Educate Health Care Professionals in Health IT, and the Community Health Peer Learning Program.

The Workforce Training Program will update training materials from the original Workforce Curriculum Development Program and train healthcare workers to use new health information technologies aimed at moving towards better care and smarter spending. And, the Community Health Peer Learning Program will establish a cooperative agreement to address health challenges at the population level through a community-based collaborative approach.

Additional information on all three ONC grants can be found here.

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