Key Step Toward Nationwide Health Information Exchange

Dr. David Blumenthal | March 15, 2010

Today Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the awarding of over $160 million in new grants to help states advance the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. This completes the final set of awards as part of the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program, which was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  The first wave of 40 awards was released in mid-February.  Through this final round of awards, every U.S. State and territory, or their State Designated Entity, has now been awarded funds under this program.

As part of this round of awards, 16 states and qualified State Designated Entities (SDE) will obtain the resources and technical assistance to rapidly build capacity for exchanging health information among and between health care professionals and hospitals.  Such exchange will allow any two providers in a state – and ultimately across the nation – send and receive relevant clinical and other data necessary for improved coordination of patient care.  Recipients of these awards will establish and implement appropriate governance and policies and ensure the necessary technical infrastructure and business operations are in place to support secure exchange within and across states.

An unprecedented level of coordination and collaboration is needed to achieve our vision of a secure, interoperable, nationwide health information infrastructure where health data can follow patients to their point of care.  We must find innovative ways to break down the barriers that prevent the seamless exchange of information, and States have to be key players.

I congratulate each grant recipient, and welcome a dialog on the role of states in advancing our challenging agenda.

–David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. – National Coordinator for Health Information Technology