HHS awards $87M to spur IT adoption in health centers

The Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday announced $87 million in awards for 1,310 health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

According to HHS, health IT is part of the Obama administration’s efforts to build a healthcare system that delivers better care, smarter spending and healthier people. The agency added that this is the first significant investment since 2009 directly awarded to health centers to support the purchase of health IT. HHS emphasized that all purchases or upgrades of electronic health record systems made with the funding must use technology certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT.


“Health centers across the country are instrumental in providing high-quality, comprehensive primary healthcare to millions of people,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “This investment will help unlock healthcare data and put it to work, improving health outcomes and building a better healthcare system for the American people.”

Among other objectives, the agency said the funding will be used to support health information technology enhancements to accelerate health centers’ transition to value-based models of care; improve efforts to share and use information to support better decisions; and increase engagement in delivery system transformation.

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. The health centers employ more than 190,000 staff members who provide care for nearly 24 million patients.

“These awards will allow health centers to deliver higher quality of care to patients and spend health care dollars in a smarter way,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae

The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center Fund, which was extended with bipartisan support in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015.

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