HHS gives innovation awards to 26 organizations

By Bernie Monegain
12:35 PM

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday the first batch of organizations receiving Health Care Innovation awards. A total of $122.6 million will support 26 projects -- many underpinned by health IT, and all aimed at improving care, saving money and improving the healthcare workforce.

Together, the 26 organizations expect to reduce health spending by $254 million over the next three years, HHS noted.
“We can’t wait to support innovative projects that will save money and make our healthcare system stronger,” said Sebelius. “It’s yet another way we are supporting local communities now in their efforts to provide better care and lower cost.”
The new projects, funded through the health reform law, include collaborations of leading hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technology innovators, community-based organizations and patients’ advocacy groups, among others, located in urban and rural areas. They will begin work this year to address healthcare issues in local communities. 

The initiative calls on applicants to come up with their best ideas to test how they can quickly and efficiently improve the quality and affordability of healthcare. 
Projects include:

  • Emory University’s collaboration with area health systems to train health professionals and use telehealth technologies to link critical care units in rural Georgia to critical care doctors in Atlanta hospitals. The project aims to save money and improve the quality of care by reducing the need to transfer patients from rural hospitals to critical care units in Atlanta;
  • Camp Courage, a program in Minneapolis-St. Paul serving adults with disabilities and complex medical conditions. The grant will enable Camp Courage to save money and improve the quality of care by creating a patient-centered medical home focused on highest-cost Medicaid patients;
  • A University Hospitals of Cleveland initiative to increase access and care coordination for children beyond the walls of the doctor’s office. The initiative aims to save money and improve the quality of care by extending the expertise of an elite children’s hospital to local pediatric practices treating children with complex chronic conditions and behavioral health problems with physician extension teams and telehealth.                                                     

Preliminary awardees were chosen for their innovative solutions to the healthcare challenges facing their communities and for their focus on creating a well-trained healthcare workforce that is equipped to meet the need for new jobs in the 21st century health system.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the health care and social assistance sector will gain the most jobs between now and 2020.
Today’s awards total $122.6 million. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at HHS administers the awards through cooperative agreements over three years.

A list of the awards and descriptions of the projects are on the next page.