HHS awards $36M to aid health center HIT adoption

Funding to help health centers nationwide acquire, implement health IT, says Sylvia Burwell.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday announced $36 million in funding for 50 Health Center Controlled Networks, which bring together health centers across the country to address operational and clinical challenges such as the acquisition and implementation of health IT.

Located in 41 states and Puerto Rico, the HCCNs will promote enhanced information sharing and support health centers in meeting the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs using Office of the National Coordinator for HIT-certified EHRs, adopting technology-enabled quality improvement strategies, and participating in health information exchange.

“Health Center Controlled Networks are a key tool in providing quality primary care to medically underserved communities,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “By using these networks, individual health centers can work together to share resources, leverage buying power, and improve access to health information technology, leading to a better care experience for vulnerable populations.”

According to HHS, the networks will increase access to care, enhance quality of care and achieve cost efficiencies through the redesign of practices to integrate services, optimize patient outcomes, or negotiate managed care contracts on behalf of participating health centers. The agency claims that the additional HIT support will impact more than 1,020 participating health center organizations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Currently, the Health Center Program funded by Health Resources and Services Administration supports nearly 1,400 health centers that operate about 9,800 service delivery sites in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin. The health centers employ more than 170,000 staff who provide care for nearly 23 million patients.

“These awards demonstrate our continued focus on advancing health center quality and accountability across all health centers by supporting the adoption of Health Information Technology,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae.

A list of the awardees can be found here.

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