Buttressed with stimulus money, there's a lot of grant and loan opportunities available for provider organizations seeking help to advance their use of information technologies, according to Brian Dixon, health I.T. project manager at the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis.

Speaking at the HIMSS 2010 Annual Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta, Dixon laid out tips for finding the opportunities and completing applications. Organizations can use professional, fee-based services to assist in the grant-search process, he noted. Chicago-based HIMSS offers such a service, at himss.org/ASP/grantsadvantage.asp. The federally funded Rural Assistance Center provides customized assistance with funding searches and listservs for rural health and human services organizations, at raconline.org.

But many providers conduct their own Internet search. Google is a wonderful tool, Dixon said, but don't type in obvious search terms, such as "health I.T. funding." Use the advanced search functions, with pertinent words separated by commas. Better yet, a hospital or local librarian is an important resource for conducting optimum Internet searches.

Most federal grants require a formal evaluation of project outcomes. An evaluation plan should include formal measures for such areas as patient safety, care quality, patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes, among others.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has tools to assist in creating an evaluation plan, at http://healthit.ahrq.gov/evaltoolkit. In general, funding organizations of any type are looking for a few common elements despite various format requirements. Some common funding resources include:

* The federal government's core database of grant opportunities at grants.gov.

* The federal government's contracting Web site, called Fedbizopps.gov, at fbo.gov.

* The Department of Health and Human Services' American Recovery and Reinvestment Act site at hhs.gov/recovery.

* The Health Resources and Services Administration's Office of Health IT at hrsa.gov/healthit, and its Office for the Advancement of Telehealth at hrsa.gov/telehealth.

* The State Office of Rural Health at nosorh.org.

* The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at rwjf.org.

--Joseph Goedert

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