ONC fires up $1.5 million in grants to fuel interoperability

Two new funding initiatives, dubbed High Impact Pilots Standards Exploration Award, will focus on improving care delivery and data sharing.
By Jessica Davis
11:31 AM
ONC interoperability Karen DeSalvo, MD data blocking data sharing

The Office of the National Coordinator on Monday announced a pair of new funding initiatives to advance common standards and increase interoperability and ONC head Karen DeSalvo revealed that the agency is allocating $1.5 million to the projects.

"Our goal is to accomplish a system where we improve the way providers are incentivized and the way we distribute information," DeSalvo said at the 2016 Health Datapalooza held in Washington, DC. "Not just free and available data, but to improve transparency. We need to data to be open and available. And perhaps more importantly, to give people the information they need to be engaged and empowered.”

The first cooperative agreement program, High Impact Pilots, will divide $1.25 million among three to seven awardees who will focus on implementing HIT Standards Committee recommendations and the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. Awardees must choose a priority category on which to focus, with a minimum of three impact dimensions.

The other program, Standards Exploration Award, will give $250,000 to three to five organizations and follows the same goals as High Impact Pilots. However, awardees must choose a minimum of one impact dimension. They'll test IT platforms and evaluate scalability to determine the impact of the awardee's selected standards and IT platform.

Awardees must produce results within one year and the programs are designed to improve care delivery and data sharing among health organizations.

"The data is bursting at the doors. And providers are demanding we set it free," she said. "We need to move quickly to where access to data is the norm and not the exception."

There are three key drivers to accomplishing this, DeSalvo said: data standards, wherein health IT products speak the same language; a move toward culture change to make access to data the norm; and eradicating data blocking.

These funding programs were designed in response to these needs, DeSalvo added. And to create a "person-centered system."

"We want to make sure we're all focused on national standards," she said. "It shows we have common ground. Your innovation, input and insights will drive us forward into a new era of health IT."

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com

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