David Blumenthal, MD, Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced plans to make available $60 million to support the development of Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP).

SHARP projects will conduct focused research in critical areas where breakthrough advances are needed to address existing barriers to the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology (health IT).  The SHARP program identifies and works to address barriers to adoption in the following four areas:

Security of Health Information Technology research to address the challenges of developing security and risk mitigation policies and the technologies necessary to build and preserve the public trust as health IT systems become ubiquitous.

Patient-Centered Cognitive Support research to address the need to harness the power of health IT in a patient-focused manner and align the technology with the day-to-day practice of medicine to support clinicians as they care for patients.

Health care Application and Network Platform Architectures research to focus on the development of new and improved architectures that are necessary to achieve electronic exchange and use of health information in a secure, private, and accurate manner.

Secondary Use of Electronic Health Record Data research to identify strategies to enhance the use of health IT in improving the overall quality of health care, population health and clinical research while protecting patient privacy.

Each project will identify and implement a research agenda addressing the specific goals of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) and identify the barriers to adoption and meaningful use of heath IT that will be addressed in their research area.  HHS expects to award qualified applicants cooperative agreements to support research efforts in these four project areas. Each agreement will last four years.

Awardees will implement a collaborative, interdisciplinary program of research addressing short-term and long-term challenges in their focus area.  Additionally, the projects are expected to develop and implement a cooperative program between researchers, health care providers, and other health IT sector stakeholders to incorporate research results into health IT practice and products. 

Authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and part of the HITECH provisions of ARRA, the cooperative agreements are part of a series of grants to help strengthen and support the use of health information technology to improve the quality and efficiency of care provided to all Americans.

“Innovative research and approaches are required to overcome some of the foremost challenges we face in achieving our vision of a transformed health care system enabled through health IT,” said Dr. Blumenthal “The SHARP program will bring together some of the best and brightest minds in the nation to find breakthrough solutions and innovations that will eliminate barriers to adoption and, over time, increase the meaningful use of health IT to improve the health and care of all Americans.”

Source: HHS