ONC Local Grants Announcement

Dr. David Blumenthal | December 7, 2009

At ONC, we’re making tremendous progress to achieve our goals and today, I wanted to provide a quick update and an important new announcement.

Although I’m often out front in communicating our goals and progress, there is an entire organization – numerous collaborating agencies, our federal advisory committees, and other stakeholders – behind me working harder, and faster than ever, to get the right pieces in place to meet very aggressive timelines.

You have seen evidence of that work already with our announcements of major grant programs to help establish health information exchange and grow the health IT workforce.  And you’ll see even more in the weeks and months ahead as we roll out new projects.

Already, we’re on the way to getting the Regional Extension Centers and the State Health Information Exchange program established early in 2010.  In fact, on a technical assistance call on Friday about the extension center program, we announced that, due to a strong response for applications, there will be approximately 30 extension center awards made in January and the remainder in March.  This should assure support is in place for providers looking to become meaningful users of EHR systems leading up to 2011.

Of course, this isn’t all we’re doing.  You will see meaningful use criteria (from CMS) in a matter of weeks.  We also anticipate publishing in early 2010 our proposed plans for establishing a new certification program, which we believe will enable most vendors to have their products certified by 2011. And there will be a number of other awards and programs rolling out between now and the end of the first quarter.  This past week’s announcements of the Beacon Community Program and additional workforce training grants continue to build the needed foundation for electronic health records throughout the nation.

We’re working hard and we’re working fast, but we’re also working smart and ensuring that the necessary programs and standards serve as a sound foundation.