Health IT Innovation is the Key to Care

Dr. David Blumenthal | December 18, 2009

As Americans, we realize the importance of relentless innovation.  A key component of securing a healthy future for all Americans relies on harnessing innovation in health IT.

The new Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) Program announced today and funded at a level of $60 million through the HITECH Act, is designed with this purpose in mind. This program will fund projects in areas of research where breakthrough advances are needed to address barriers in health IT adoption.  Addressing these breakthrough areas will require the most advanced thinking the nation can bring to bear.

Each research project will be charged with formulating and executing an ambitious research agenda. This research agenda will focus on specific goals of HITECH, and the challenges to adoption of health IT and achieving meaningful use that are critical to realizing the full promise of health IT.  Each research project will be responsible for thinking ahead of the curve and developing innovative solutions to navigate health IT barriers.

The projects selected for participation in the SHARP Program will implement a collaborative, multidisciplinary program of research addressing short-term and long-term challenges within one of four focus areas: security of health IT, patient-centered cognitive support, health care application and network architectures, and secondary use of EHR data. Research in these areas is critical to improving health care through the use of health IT.


Why invest in research for breakthrough advances in health IT, when we have so many communities who are just now laying the groundwork? Simply stated, because it’s important to simultaneously address both the present and the future as we establish a new paradigm for health IT.  ONC envisions a health care system that delivers higher-quality, safer, and more efficient, accessible, equitable, and convenient care enabled by health IT. Research conducted by these projects will accelerate progress towards achieving just that.

Fostering innovative approaches to improving health care through the use of health IT will create a high-performing, learning health care system.  Solutions uncovered by projects’ research will help us tackle challenges and barriers we encounter on the road to improving the quality and value of health care – today, and into the future.

I encourage you to learn more about the SHARP Program by visiting the SHARP web page and by reading the Fact Sheet found online.

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