States Snag Major Fed Funding For Health-Care IT Initiatives

The federal government has awarded more than 100 grants totalling $139 million to 38 states to implement Health Information Technology (HIT) initiatives during the next four years, according to a report released by Input, a Reston, Va.-based research firm.

The federal initiatives promote the transition to automated health-care information-sharing and electronic health records nationwide.

"The most important takeaway is the public/private collaboration that is going on now and needs to continue for this HIT initiative to take off," says Jennifer Geurin, senior analyst for state agency profiles at Input.

Generally speaking, health care has even fewer resources in-house than other segments of the public sector, Geurin says. Therefore, it needs to turn to the private sector to provide solutions that enhance consolidation, records management and federal-compliance efforts.

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Furthermore, proposed legislation will likely encourage more dollars to be allocated for health care down the road. The Health Information Technology Quality and Improvement Act, for example, calls for grants and loan programs, and the Medicare Value Purchasing Act integrates the use of health information technology into its payment programs; both bills were introduced in June. In addition, a senate HELP bill calls for a public-private partnership that will identify uniform national data standards and implementation policies for the adoption of health IT, according to the eHealth Initiative, an alliance of nonprofit affiliated organizations dedicated to the improvement in quality, safety and efficiency of health care through information and IT.

"There are new initiatives and funding opportunities out seemingly every day, either on the federal or state level," Geurin says. "HIT is becoming as important to government as cybersecurity."