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ONC Announces Funding for Workforce Training, Innovation

February 5, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is in a giving mood this week. First, it was health information exchange (HIE) and now it’s the health IT workforce and innovation.

ONC announced it is issuing $6.4 million in funding to improve health IT workforce training and $1.7 million to support health IT innovations that improve population health at the community level. The recipients of these programs will be support programs that help clinicians, administrators, organizations, and communities continue to learn and grow on the path to interoperable health IT.

Similar to how the data exchange funding will build off the work done in the State HIE Cooperative agreement, ONC’s funding to workforce training will aim to build off previous programs. In particular, the agency had community college and university-based training programs, which both exceeded its goals in terms of graduates. Also, the new training program will update material from the original Workforce Curriculum Development Program as well. It will focus on training in population health, care coordination, new care delivery and payment models, and value-based care.

The innovation grant will build off the work done by the 17 Beacon Communities. The Beacons, frequently featured on Healthcare Informatics, aimed to build an interoperable health IT infrastructure that tested innovations and sought to improve population health. They touched nearly 9,000 providers and more than 8 million patient lives. In a similar vein, the new Community Health Peer Learning Program will bring communities together to work in partnership with national experts, local technical experts, consumers, stakeholders, and ONC to facilitate shared community learning and problem solving through a collaborative learning program.

“Through these grant programs, we look forward to continuing our strong partnership with the academic, provider, and health IT communities. Our goal is to help others learn how best to use health IT to keep patients at the center of care delivery,” Karen DeSalvo, M.D., National Coordinator for Health IT, and Ahmed Hague, director of the ONC’s Office of Programs & Engagement, wrote in a blog.

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