HITECH Act Will Benefit Higher-Ed Institutions

HHS may award grants to eligible institutions “to carry out demonstration projects to develop academic curricula integrating certified EHR technology in the clinical education of health professionals.” Eligible institutions are limited to:

  • a school of medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, or pharmacy, a graduate program in behavioral or mental health, or any other graduate health professions school;
  • a graduate school of nursing or physician assistant studies;
  • a consortium of two or more schools described above; or
  • an institution with a graduate medical education program in medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, or physician assistance studies.

 

However, the Act imposes two major limitations: (1) Applicant schools must contribute at least 50 percent of the funding (unless such co-payment would be detrimental to the program due to national economic conditions, in which case upon notification to Congress such cost-share arrangement may be waived); and (2) Eligible schools cannot use amounts received under this program to purchase hardware, software, or services. These funds are meant exclusively for adapting the school’s curricula to the new technology, and may mean that school may not use HHS funds to hire consultants to develop such programs for them.


The Act also authorizes HHS to assist all education institutions in establishing or expanding health informatics programs. Schools may receive federal assistance to develop and implement HIT curricula, courses and certification programs; recruit students; acquire necessary equipment (and installation of such equipment); and establish or enhance bridge programs between community colleges and universities. Priority will be given to existing education programs and programs designed to be completed in six months. However, as noted above, eligible programs must contribute at least 50% of the funding, subject to the economic conditions exception described in the above paragraph.
 

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