News in Brief: Week of Oct. 3-7

October 05, 2011 04:50 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

ONC Launches New Website to Serve Physicians, Patients

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recently launched a new website(, which it has dubbed the official federal resource for health information technology, or health IT, and electronic health records, or EHRs.

The new website offers a dedicated section for physicians and other health care professionals. Visitors to the site can see how their colleagues use health IT to improve patient care, get detailed information about how to make the transition to an EHR, find out how to connect with their local health IT regional extension center and learn about financial incentives.

On the patient and family section of the website, consumers can discover how health IT can lead to safer, more efficient health care, get tips on protecting personal health information and learn how to be more involved in their health care.

HHS Awards Grants to Fight Chronic Disease

HHS has awarded grants to 61 states and communities to fight chronic disease under a new initiative created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

According to HHS(, these Community Transformation Grants will help states and communities with more than 120 residents tackle the root causes of chronic disease, including smoking, poor diet and lack of physical activity. Grant recipients will use the funds to transform where their residents live, work, play and go to school, making it possible for residents to lead healthier, more productive lives. All of the grantees will address the following priority areas:

  • tobacco-free living,
  • active living and healthy eating, and
  • quality clinical and other preventive services.

The initiative will allow 35 grantees to implement seven proven interventions aimed at improving health and wellness. The funding amounts for these projects range from $500,000 to $10 million, depending on population size and scope of the project. Meanwhile, 26 grantees will work to build capacity by laying a solid foundation for sustainable community prevention efforts. Funding amounts for these grantees will range from $147,000 to $500,000, depending on the size and scope of the project.

Physicians With Heart Aids Former Soviet Republic

Physicians With Heart -- a collaborative effort of the AAFP Foundation and Heart to Heart International -- is making its fourth trip in 15 years to the Kyrgyz Republic.

Leaders of the AAFP Foundation and Heart to Heart, about 20 volunteers, and representatives of the U.S. State Department are delivering humanitarian aid, participating in a medical symposium focused on family medicine and doing volunteer work during the trip, which concludes Oct. 7.

Physicians With Heart donors provided more than $1.3 million worth of diagnostic instruments and other medical supplies that will be distributed in the former Soviet republic.

Volunteers are posting updates and photos of the trip on the Heart to Heart Facebook page( and the AAFP Foundation Facebook page(

HHS Requests Comments on Comparative Effectiveness Research Project

HHS is seeking comments on a proposal to create a database of health care claims information for comparative effectiveness research.

The initiative, known as the Multi-Payer Claims Database Project, represents a private/public partnership that is intended to "consolidate access to longitudinal data on health care services to facilitate comparative effectiveness research," according to a Sept. 23 notice( in the Federal Register.

HHS, which is responsible for managing the project, will draw data from multiple sources to ensure the project includes adequate coverage of priority patient populations, less common medical conditions, health care interventions and geographic areas. The project will initially include claims data because these data are most readily available. But, in time, additional clinical data from other sources, such as electronic health records, may be incorporated into the database, according to HHS.

The agency is seeking comments on the necessity and utility of the proposed information collection and on ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected. HHS also is seeking comments on the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden.

Comments must be e-mailed to the Office of the Secretary's paperwork clearance officer within 60 days.

Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for 2011-15 Published

Strategic planning for the nation's health information technology, or health IT, needs in coming years is summed up in the recently released Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for 2011-2015( A short overview( also is available.

The plan was developed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, or ONC, in collaboration with other federal partners. It lays out a path by which the federal government can coordinate efforts with the public and private sector to find ways to implement health IT to help improve the quality, efficiency, safety and patient-centeredness of health care in the United States.

The ONC's health IT strategic plan last was updated in 2008.

AAFP Named Official Observer of FSMB

The AAFP has become an official observer of the Federation of State Medical Boards, or FSMB( As such, the Academy is invited to send a representative to the organization's annual meeting, including its House of Delegates, April 26-28 in Fort Worth, Texas. Official observers have the right to speak and debate on the floor of the House of Delegates.

Official observers also may be asked to provide representation on committees or working groups.

The FSMB, which is a nonprofit organization that represents 70 medical and osteopathic boards in the United States and its territories, promotes excellence in medical practice, licensure and regulation.