Community health centers get $90M for IT buys

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Community health centers across the nation soon could be significantly enhancing their information technology capabilities.

The Bureau of Primary Health Care within the Health Resources and Services Administration later this year will start disbursing $90 million in grant funds to about 1,380 health center award recipients transitioning to value-based models of care who will need new IT tools.

These health centers operate more than 9,000 service delivery sites across the nation, according to HRSA. Supplemental funding to support improvements in decision making through the use of IT and increased engagement in delivery system transformation will start in September and extend through August 2017.

Funds will support the purchase of IT products to speed the transition to value-based care, conduct electronic health information exchange, use data analytics to support better decision making and increase staff and patient engagement.

The funds also can be used to make strategic investments, such as implementing new clinical and administrative workflows and developing new reports, all with the goal of improved quality at lower cost, according to HRSA

Health centers without a certified electronic health record at all sites are expected to use HRSA funds to get up to speed on a certified system.

The program is open to public as well as not-for-profit private agencies, institutions or organizations, and a limited number of state and local governments. Applicants need to be serving population groups in medically underserved areas.

Applications must be given to designated organizations for review and approval. HRSA field offices will review continuation applications. Final decisions are made by the Director of the Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration, and notices on awards will take 90 to 120 days.

Criteria for selecting proposals for funding will include the relative merit of grant proposals as measured against the Bureau's funding criteria; specific program guidelines; service to high-priority population; demonstrated sound fiscal and management capabilities: and past management performance of the applicant.

More information is available here.

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