New Research to Address Privacy

Federal grants support four projects
New Research to Address Privacy
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $60 million in economic stimulus funds under the HITECH Act to four universities for healthcare IT research projects, three of which will address privacy and security issues.

The four $15 million grants were awarded under the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects, or SHARP, program, administered through HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The projects

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will conduct a research project 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."

The other grants went to:

  • Harvard University, for research on architectures for conducting health information exchange in "a secure, private and accurate manner;"
  • Mayo Clinic of Medicine for research on strategies for making use of data stored in electronic health records to improve the overall quality of care while maintaining the privacy and security of the data; and
  • University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, for research on using IT to support clinicians' decision making.

In an April 2 blog, Charles Friedman of the Office of National Coordinator said, "All four projects will develop innovative solutions that will find their way into working systems in two years, while also exploring more fundamental problems that require longer-term study."

Training grants

In addition to the SHARP grants, HHS has awarded $84 million in other grants to support the training and development of more than 50,000 new health IT professionals.

Some $36 million will go to 70 community colleges to support non-degree training programs that can be completed in six months or less. Another $32 million with go to nine university-based training programs lasting 12 months or less, as well as master's programs.

Other projects are:

  • $10 million for creation of five "curriculum development centers" to support the community colleges; and
  • $6 million for development and administration of health IT competency examinations for those taking non-degree programs.

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

Former News Editor, ISMG

Anderson was news editor of Information Security Media Group and founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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