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$1.5 Million in Grants Awarded by HHS to Improve the Flow of Health Data

Grants totaling $1.5 million have recently been awarded to seven organizations by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to develop standards-based solutions to improve the exchange of health information.

New approaches to health information exchange will be developed and tested, and the results of the Cooperative Agreement programs will help to improve medication management, data exchange, and the coordination of care.

According to the ONC, more than 35 applications were received for the High Impact Pilot and Standards Exploration Award grants, which were announced at the Health Datapalooza Conference in May. The $1.5 million will be shared between the seven winning applicants.

As Vindell Washington, MD, national coordinator for health information technology explained, “These programs will serve as key building blocks for improving the patient and provider experience with the flow of health information.” Announcing the winners of the awards, Washington said the aim is to “advance the use of common standards to improve care, particularly in the categories of comprehensive medication management, laboratory data exchange and care coordination.”

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The winning applications were chosen based on their potential to unlock health data and benefit both patients and providers. Each application was assessed based on the technical approach used, the level of creativity and innovation, the scalability of the solution, how the solution aligned with HHS goals, and the health IT challenges that each attempted to solve. Each of the awardees will be expected to report their results by September 15, 2017.

Four organizations were selected to receive funding under the High Impact Pilot programs:

The Health Collaborative – This partnership between the Health Collaborative and the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) will develop a “network of networks” model using existing standards as part of a Patient-Centered Data Model pilot project.

Lantana Consulting Group – A new standard will be created specifically for electronic pharmacist care plans (ePhCP) that have not been included in the ONC’s Interoperability Standards Advisory. Health IT standards will be used to integrate pharmacist care plans into coordination efforts for patient care across the health continuum.

RxREVU Inc – This collaboration between RxREVU and the Banner Health System aims to develop a new interoperability standard which will help to reduce overall prescription drug spending, provide detailed information on patient medication adherence, and operationalize organizational best practices.

The University of Utah – This community primary care project will develop a novel closed-loop surgical referrals dashboard application that will allow clinicians and the University of Utah’s vascular surgery service to share patient health information. The application will be developed to integrate with commercially available EHRs using Sustainable Medical Applications and Reusable Technologies (SMART) on FHIR standard.

Three organizations will receive funding through the Standards Exploration Awards:

Arkansas Office of Health Information Technology – This project will implement interoperable, bi-directional health information exchange with behavioral health providers.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – This project will explore the cost efficiencies of integrating healthcare and clinical research systems with the electronic health record (EHR) used by the medical center, with a view to using patient data for research as well as directing patient care more efficiently.

Sysbiochem – This collaboration between Sysbiochem, the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Intermountain Healthcare will develop services to facilitate the flow of data between an EHR Laboratory Informatics System and an analytic application to help clinicians coordinate care for breast cancer patients.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.