Just this week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Dr. David Blumenthal announced plans to establish nationwide Health IT “Beacon Communities.” $235 million dollars have been allocated to fund the program through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The program’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of HIT, and prove its effectiveness in transforming the quality, efficiency, and financial viability of local healthcare systems. The initiative will distribute $220 million in grants among 15 selected U.S. communities. For the 36-month program, the communities will use these funds to build and strengthen HIT infrastructure and capacity for health information exchange. The federal government is communicating that extreme caution should be taken in building an infrastructure with strong privacy and security measures for data exchange. The 15 communities will receive an additional $15 million for technical assistance and program evaluation.