Health IT, Policy

ONC to put $2.5M in CARES Act funding into health information exchanges

HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator will allocate $2.5 million in CARES Act funding to health information exchanges to support public health uses of information from health information exchanges (HIEs). Five recipients will each get $500,000.

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In an attempt to improve public health infrastructure, HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) will distribute $2.5 million in CARES Act funding to health information exchanges (HIEs). These networks make it easier for healthcare organizations to exchange information, ranging from care summaries to hospital discharge data.

The ONC plans to award five organizations up to $500,000 each, with the goal of helping state and local public health agencies better respond to Covid-19 and future health emergencies.

“State and local HIEs play a unique role in their communities by uniting health information from many different sites of service, including providers, hospitals, nursing homes, clinical laboratories, and public health departments, making them a natural fit to deliver innovative, local ‘last mile’ approaches to strengthen our overall public health response,” National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Dr. Don Rucker said in a news release. “The funding opportunity we announced today will invest in infrastructure and data services for HIEs that provide critical real-time information to communities at the frontlines of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

To be eligible for funding, applicants must propose services that would benefit public health agencies, and improve services in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the challenges in with the pandemic is getting a complete picture of hospitalization rates, patient demographics, clinical outcomes and other critical data related to Covid-19. This information was originally reported by hospitals to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, but a hasty switch directing them to report data to the Department of Health and Human Services has left hospitals scrambling.

The new dashboard also has faced a bumpy rollout, with noted discrepancies in hospitalization data between national and state figures.

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