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White House gives $15.8 million for Utah diabetes program

WASHINGTON — As part of a $220 million, stimulus-funded effort to expand use of electronic health records, the White House announced Tuesday a $15.8 million grant for a pilot program in Utah designed to help improve management of diabetes.

The grant went to HealthInsight of Salt Lake City, which will work with Intermountain Healthcare to help medical providers track diabetes management and reduce hospitalizations.

It was one of 15 major grants for pilot projects announced Tuesday — chosen from 130 applicants — in what the White House calls its "Beacon Community" program to enhance use of computers in health care and to provide for the use of an electronic health record for every American by 2014.

"These pioneering communities are going to lead the way in bringing smarter, lower-cost health care to all Americans through use of electronic health records."

He added, "Because of their early efforts, doctors across the country will one day be able to coordinate patient care with the stroke of a key or pull up life-saving health information instantly in an emergency," Vice President Joe Biden said as the grants were announced.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius added, "The Beacon Community Program will tap the best ideas across America and demonstrate the enormous benefit health IT (information technology) will have to improving health and care within our communities."

The Beacon projects are expected as a group to create about 1,100 jobs initially paying an average of $70,000 a year, while accelerating development of a nationwide health IT that the White House says will eventually employ tens of thousands of Americans.

"Thanks to the Recovery Act's history investment in health IT, we're not only advancing the way health care is delivered in this country, we're also building a whole new industry along with it, one that will shape our 21st Century economy for generations to come," Biden said.

This story was reported from Salt Lake City.