The state has released a Request for Applications seeking innovative health-information exchange projects that hold the promise of improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare around the state. The widespread availability and appropriate use of health information technology is an integral part of healthcare reform across the country, and New Jersey aims to take the lead in this arena.

The RFA solicits innovative, community-level health-data exchange projects to submit to the federal government for potential grant funding, and is available at http://nj.gov/recovery/grant/.

“This is the first step in building the heath information networks that will ensure that life-saving patient information will be there when patients are brought into the emergency room or are treated by cardiologists or other specialists for the first time,” Governor Corzine said in a statement. “Critically important patient health histories such as medication allergies, recent surgeries or chronic illnesses — which impact the kind of care that is delivered — ultimately will be available to physicians in real time.”

The state, through the New Jersey Health Information Technology Commission and the Office of e-HIT in the Department of Banking and Insurance, is currently assembling a plan for health information technology. The promotion of regional health information exchanges is critical to that plan. Once these exchanges are established, the state aims to integrate them and other sources of health-care data in a secure, statewide health-information exchange so that key clinical information “follows the patient” no matter where he sees a doctor or goes to the hospital.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made available $564 million to the states for health-information exchange. A sizable portion of that funding will go to local and regional health information exchanges that seek to improve quality and efficiency of care by sharing patient-level clinical data among authorized health-care providers.

Each state will receive between $4 million and $40 million based on a formula that has yet to be fully released. The inclusion of fully vetted exchange projects will strengthen New Jersey’s application and statewide plan. Health information exchange proposals will be reviewed and scored according to rigorous criteria for possible inclusion in the state’s application to the federal government. Applications to the state are due on Friday, September 25, and the state’s application to HHS is due on Friday, October 16.

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