Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Solish have announced a total of nearly $1 billion in Recovery Act awards to help health care providers advance the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology (IT) and train workers for the health care jobs of the future. The awards will help make health IT available to over 100,000 hospitals and primary care physicians by 2014 and train thousands of people for careers in health care and information technology. This Recovery Act investment will help grow the emerging health IT industry which is expected to support tens of thousands of jobs ranging from nurses and pharmacy techs to IT technicians and trainers.
The over $750 million in HHS grant awards Secretary Sebelius announced are part of a federal initiative to build capacity to enable widespread meaningful use of health IT. This assistance at the state and regional level will facilitate health care providers’ efforts to adopt and use electronic health records (EHRs) in a meaningful manner that has the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of health care for all Americans. Of the over $750 million investment, $386 million will go to 40 states and qualified State Designated Entities (SDEs) to facilitate health information exchange (HIE) at the state level, while $375 million will go to an initial 32 non-profit organizations to support the development of regional extension centers (RECs) that will aid health professionals as they work to implement and use health information technology – with additional HIE and REC awards to be announced in the near future. RECs are expected to provide outreach and support services to at least 100,000 primary care providers and hospitals within two years.
“Health information technology can make our health care system more efficient and improve the quality of care we all receive,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “These grant awards, the first of their kind, 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 more than $225 million in DOL grant awards Secretary Solis announced will be used to train 15,000 people in job skills needed to access careers in health care, IT and other high growth fields. Through existing partnerships with local employers, the recipients of these grants have already identified roughly 10,000 job openings for skilled workers that likely will become available in the next two years in areas like nursing, pharmacy technology and information technology. The grants will fund 55 separate training programs in 30 states to help train people for secure, well-paid health jobs and meet the growing employment demand for health workers. Employment services will be available via the Department of Labor’s local One Stop Career Centers, and training will be offered at community colleges and other local education providers.