HHS Awards Beacon Grants To Cincinnati, Detroit

Local collaboratives will use government funding to pilot health IT to improve care of children and adults with chronic illnesses.

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"Beacon Communities are designed to point the way toward maximizing community resources to address specific health goals at the local level, including quality of care, the cost of care, and the health of the whole population," Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health IT, said in a statement. "We have seen first-hand through the Beacon application process that a great many communities have promising ideas and are starting to use health IT in innovative ways. We look forward to engaging and helping these communities through a broader nationwide effort."

In the near term, the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) will work closely with other federal partners and the private sector to identify and share promising IT-based healthcare solutions among communities across America.

"Although we could only select two additional Beacon communities, we are incredibly impressed by the creativity and focus exhibited by communities over the course of this competition," Blumenthal said. "Local leadership is an essential ingredient to improving healthcare. The Beacon Community application process provides strong evidence that communities throughout the country are mobilizing for positive change, using health IT as a critical foundation for improving healthcare."

The Beacon Community awards are part of an overall $100 billion federal government investment in science, innovation, and technology the Obama administration is making through the Recovery Act. The two awardees join 15 other projects selected in May for the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program. The other communities that previously received Beacon program funding are Tulsa, Okla.; Stoneville, Miss.; Brewer, Maine; Danville, Pa.; Salt Lake City; Indianapolis; Spokane, Wash. New Orleans; Rochester, Minn.; Providence, R.I.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Concord, N.C.; San Diego, Calif.; Hilo, Hawaii; and Buffalo, N.Y.

Beacon projects are expected to initially create dozens of new jobs, paying an average of $70,000 per year, in each of the communities, while accelerating development of a nationwide health IT infrastructure that will eventually employ tens of thousands of Americans.

The Beacon program is one of several new programs created by the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act last year. HITECH included $2 billion for technical assistance, training, and demonstration programs supporting the adoption of heath IT, including electronic health records (EHRs). Total funding for the Beacon program initiatives is $250 million, plus an additional $15 million for technical assistance and evaluation.

For Further Reading

HHS Awards $220 Million For Health IT

Biden Touts Recovery Act For Improving Healthcare

Health IT Alone Won't Improve Primary Care

Beacon Program Director Clarifies 'Meaningful Use'