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Health Information Technology

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Where can I learn about State, Federal and foundation funding?

Given the current Federal and State emphasis on health IT adoption as a way to reduce the overall cost of the US healthcare system and improve quality, multiple Federal funding programs currently exist in this area.  CAHs, health centers and rural health clinics that are thinking about health IT need to stay on top of these opportunities. Healthcare organizations that have successfully financed health IT adoption tend to rely on a number of sources of funding, including charitable donations, foundation grants, loans and other sources in addition to Federal grants.

Federal Funding Opportunities

Few grants specifically state that they will fund health IT initiatives that support the expenditures of hardware, software and training necessary for EHR, e-prescribing, computerized provider order entry (CPOEs), electronic transmittal of medical tests and decision support system implementations.  Several grants, however, exist for healthcare quality, patient safety, healthcare access, workforce training programs and approaches to control the cost of healthcare.  Though these initiatives may not state specifically that they fund health IT, funds can often be used for necessary IT infrastructure. Health IT is recognized as a way to advance many healthcare and population health initiatives.  The following Federal organizations and agencies offer grant opportunities that support health IT efforts.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) sponsors and conducts research that provides evidence-based information intended for improving the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare.  AHRQ awards most of its $329.6 million budget in the form of grants and contracts to organizations across the country.  The agency aims to help healthcare decision-makers (i.e., patients, clinicians, health system leaders, purchasers and policymakers) make informed choices to improve the quality of healthcare services.

Additional Resources:

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that works to improve access to healthcare services for the uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable by providing program resources and services.  With a focus on these populations, HRSA's seven goals are the following:

  1. Improve Access to Healthcare
  2. Improve Health Outcomes
  3. Improve the Quality of Healthcare
  4. Eliminate Health Disparities
  5. Improve the Public Health and Healthcare Systems
  6. Enhance the Ability of the Healthcare System to Respond to Public Health Emergencies
  7. Achieve Excellence in Management Practices

Additional Resources:

Office of Rural Health Policy Grant Programs

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues with the goal of integrating program delivery for the food and agriculture systems.  Offering financial support to help increase job opportunities as well as improve housing, utilities and infrastructure in rural America are among its key activities. Initiatives, such as the Community Facilities Program and Telecommunications Program, have been developed to aid in the process of improving healthcare quality for rural communities and organizations.

Additional Resources:

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) makes funding available for broadband operations in rural areas.  In addition, the FCC's Schools and Libraries Universal Service Program and Rural Health Care Support Program provide financial support for broadband services to schools, libraries and rural healthcare providers.

Additional Resources:

State Government Funding Opportunities

State and local initiatives can play a big role in financing solutions, but may not appear on national sites.  Information regarding direct funding or new loan programs may also be available at meetings held by professional associations, relevant County and State agencies and local chambers of commerce.  These forums also provide the opportunity to make the case regarding the need for support for health IT implementation from these stakeholders.

For some providers, purchasing a limited subscription to vendors who will provide analysis of ongoing state and local funding opportunities in your area may be beneficial.  Providers should also regularly visit State and local Government web sites to monitor new funding opportunities, especially those related to providers who primarily serve Medicaid and uninsured patients.

Each State has specific contracting and funding requirements and needs.  A very useful resource for finding State funding for rural projects including those related to health IT is provided by the Rural Assistance Center (RAC).  The RAC provides a list of contacts, organizations and funding opportunities for each State.

Philanthropic and Foundation Funding Opportunities

The key to developing a strategy for funding health IT at the provider level is by making sure that all opportunities are investigated.  Providers should monitor community, State and Federal funding opportunities online and sign up for email alerts for grant programs offered by major foundations.  On a national level, several foundations such as The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund and The William F. Kellogg Foundation, can provide useful information and be significant funding sources.  Examples of State foundations with interest in health IT projects include the Tides Foundation and the California Healthcare Foundation in California and State-based healthcare conversation foundations such as the New York State Health Foundation.  Requests for funding from philanthropic organizations should reflect the unique priorities of each organization.  Finally, several organizations and associations including the eHealth Initiative, the Health Information Management Systems Society, ant the American Health Information Management Association are worth monitoring for funding and collaborative opportunities.

Foundations:

Health IT Related Associations:

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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