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ONC Awards $20 Million to Boost Vaccination Info Sharing

Analysis  |  By Scott Mace  
   January 26, 2021

CARES Act funds will boost public health and HIE ability to track adverse events and long-term health outcomes.

Nearly $20 million will be awarded by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology to support U.S. COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The funds will increase data sharing between health information exchanges (HIEs) and information systems tracking immunizations.

Money for this comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020.

ONC's Strengthening the Technical Advancement and Readiness of Public Health Agencies via Health Information Exchange, or STAR HIE, will be expanded in this effort to further share vaccination-related data.

These partnerships help public health agencies who need to track and identify high-risk patients not yet vaccinated.

Other related collaboration will benefit from funds ONC awards to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, as well as the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization.

ONC officials said the CARES Act funds will better equip public health agencies and clinicians to better administer immunizations to at-risk patients. The funds also enhance their ability to document adverse events, and more effectively analyze long-term outcomes as vaccination numbers rise.

The ability to correlate each patient who has been vaccinated with their clinical data before and after vaccination may provide more detailed insight into possible adverse events and longer-term health outcomes.

The United States currently has 63 immunization information systems: one in each state, eight in territories, and five in cities. These systems are partially funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.

About 100 HIEs organizations in the U.S. reach 92% of the U.S. population, according to estimates from the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative, a national trade organization for HIEs.

Scott Mace is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.

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