ONC launches challenge program for state HIE pilot projects

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is looking for a few good HIEs. The ONC hopes to fund upwards of ten state-level health information exchange projects that can be shared, reused and leveraged by other states to extend a nationwide system.

According to an announcement at Grants.gov, state practices, technologies, and governance structures that can help the feds meet persistent barriers to nationwide health information exchange and interoperability are eligible for $1 to $2 million awards, with total program funding just under $16.3 million.

There are five themes – two related to consumer-mediated information exchange, two themes that are looking to enable population-level health analytics and enhanced data queries, and a final theme of improving health outcomes through HIEs, demonstrating how interoperability among clinical systems can transform health care to achieve measurable health care improvement.

The specific themes include:

  • Achieving health goals through health information exchange by more clearly defining models for how health information exchange can support care delivery changes and produce measurable health improvements and greater efficiency of care in areas such as preventable admissions and readmissions, prescription drug abuse and duplicate testing.
  • Improving long-term and post-acute care transitions by engaging LTPAC providers in information sharing efforts, especially to support sharing of care summaries across transitions in care and maintenance of an accurate and up to date medication list for patients.
  • Giving patients access to their own health information by funding the development of scalable approaches to establish and authenticate the identity of consumers to enable online access to their information and options to increase information liquidity to support consumer-mediated exchange. The intent is not for applicants to build or launch new technology platforms or consumer-facing tools, but rather to create favorable conditions for consumers to access their own data and be able to choose and use consumer health tools developed by technology innovators.
  • Developing tools and approaches to search for and share granular patient data for both patients who want to be more specific about which information to share and for doctors who are interested in limited items, such as lab results for a specific test.
  • Fostering strategies for population-level analysis that circumvents aggregation / central data storage and relies on a more distributed, broadly available, and easier to implement approach. The ONC is looking for approaches that include distributed analytic methods that allow for sophisticated statistical analyses, as well as reporting of simple counts to identify data trends or baseline prevalence without sharing individual level data including for public health surveillance, quality reporting and to monitor adverse events.

A similar move was made last month as HHS announced it was giving a handful of states a chance to develop insurance exchange models that can be replicated by others. The “Early Innovators” grants will be available for up to five states who “demonstrate leadership in developing cutting-edge and cost effective consumer-based technologies and models for insurance eligibility and enrollment for Exchanges,” an HHS website says.

The awards are part of the Recovery Act’s supplemental funding to State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreements. Applications are due by January 5, 2011, with award announcements expected around the end of January 2011.