New funds will be handed out as grants by HHS and Department of Labor

Part of the massive amount of money that the Obama administration set aside in the Recovery Act is specifically being used to help health care organizations and agencies around the country migrate to new and more efficient digital health records. This migration will require a massive investment in IT technology.

The Obama administration has announced new funding for health care IT with $1 billion in additional funds allotted specifically for training on and support for health IT deployments and part of the funds will go towards health information exchanges. 

The new $1 billion investment will come in two parts – the first part will be $750 million given from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for what it says is to help spread the "meaningful use" of health IT via grants. The grants will be for health information exchanges and regional extension centers. An additional $225 million will be handed out by the Department of Labor for training in health IT.

recent paper called for better monitoring of electronic health information citing significant potential privacy issues with systems that might be flawed due to the rush to implement from some providers in order to grab a part of the government funding for new IT systems. The paper also called for yearly mandated training for users of health IT systems, which the new round of funding could help with.

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services said, "Health information technology can make our healthcare system more efficient and improve the quality of care we all receive. These grant awards will help develop our electronic infrastructure and give doctors and other health care providers the support they need as they adopt this powerful technology."

The funding from HHS will be broken down for different uses. The largest part of the money will be $386 million that will be used to facilitate health information exchanges through 40 government and stat-designated agencies. The state health and human services department in California will get the largest grant of $38.8 million from the available funds.

HHS gave $375 million to 32-non-profit organizations to develop regional extension centers to educate health IT users and to offer technical assistance to doctors and hospitals as they deploy health IT systems. The $225 million in funds the Department of Labor has will be used to train about 15,000 people in the skills needed for careers in healthcare and health IT.

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