Health IT ‘Beacon Communities’ awarded $220 million

The government has released the names of the 15 communities across the country from Maine to Hawaii that will serve as models for the broad use of healthcare information technology under a $220 million program aimed at improving care and efficiency – and creating new jobs.

Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the names Tuesday. The funds for the program are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and are being disbursed through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The ONC received 130 applications for the program.

“These pioneering communities are going to lead the way in bringing smarter, lower-cost health care to all Americans through use of electronic health records,” said Biden. “Because of their early efforts, doctors across the country will one day be able to coordinate patient care with the stroke of a key or pull up life-saving health information instantly in an emergency – and for the residents of these communities, that future is about to become a reality.

“Thanks to the Recovery Act’s historic investment in health IT, Biden added, “we’re not only advancing the way healthcare is delivered in this country, we’re also building a whole new industry along with it – one that will shape our 21st century economy for generations to come and employ tens of thousands of American workers.”

“The most important healthcare innovations are those that are designed and tested by providers and community leaders all across the country.” Sebelius said. ” Beacon Communities will offer insight into how health IT can make a real difference in the delivery of healthcare. The Beacon Community Program will tap the best ideas across America and demonstrate the enormous benefit health IT will have to improving health and care within our communities.”