The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide more than $87 million in funding to 1,310 health centers across the country to support health information technology enhancements, such as investments in certified electronic health records and EHR upgrades.
According to HHS, the health IT enhancements will help 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.
“To support these goals, all purchases or upgrades of electronic health record systems made with the funding must use technology that is certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). This is the first significant investment since 2009 directly awarded to health centers to support the purchase of health information technology,” HHS officials stated in an official announcement.
The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center (CHC) Fund, which was extended with bipartisan support in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. The increased use of health IT is part of the administration’s efforts to build a health care system that delivers better care, smarter spending and healthier people.
“Health centers across the country are instrumental in providing high-quality, comprehensive primary health care to millions of people,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a prepared statement. “This investment will help unlock health care data and put it to work, improving health outcomes and building a better health care system for the American people.”
“These awards will allow health centers to deliver higher quality of care to patients and spend health care dollars in a smarter way,” Jim Macrae, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Acting Administrator, said in the announcement.
Nearly 1,400 health centers operating over 9,800 sites provide care to more than 24 million people across this nation, in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin.