The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a new funding opportunity for projects focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioural health.

Through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), a Special Emphasis Notice (SEN) has been published under the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects (LEAP) in Health Information Technology (Health IT) initiative for fiscal year 2024 (FY24).

ONC is inviting applications in two distinct areas.

These areas of interest will emphasise improving health care data quality for AI tools and accelerating the adoption of health IT in behavioural health settings.

One area of interest seeks to develop scalable solutions for assessing and enhancing the quality of health care data in electronic health record (EHR) technologies utilised by AI tools.

The second area focuses on the design, development, and pilot of health IT solutions that boost capabilities and improve care coordination in behavioural health.

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For each area, ONC plans to issue one cooperative agreement award of up to $1m, totalling up to $2m for the two awards in FY24.

Recently, ONC published the HTI-1 final rule, which established transparency requirements for AI and other predictive algorithms included in specific certified health IT as part of the ONC Health IT Certification Program.

In addition, ONC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) unveiled the Behavioral Health Information Technology Initiative.

A multi-year effort, this initiative plans to invest over $20m of SAMHSA funds to progress health IT in practice and behavioural health care settings.

The LEAP in Health IT funding opportunity aims to address the rapidly emerging challenges in the development, use, or advancement of well-designed, interoperable, and scalable health IT.

The goal is to foster new health IT tools and inform the development, implementation, and refinement of standards, methods, and techniques.

This initiative is expected to enable the widespread adoption of health IT tools to improve health outcomes.

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology deputy national coordinator Steve Posnack said: “These two areas of interest are a natural extension of ONC’s work.

“We look forward to receiving innovative applications and seeing the impacts generated by selected awardees.”