The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently found that many health centers participating in health center controlled networks (HCCN) grant projects to support electronic health record (EHR) implementations and enhancements were having trouble establishing meaningful use objectives related to sharing data.
The HHS OIG report surveyed those health centers that received grants from the Health Resources Services and Administration (HRSA) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to implement EHR systems which support meaningful use. HHS OIG used those surveys as well as grantee progress reports to look at those health centers' progress in meeting Stage 1 meaningful use objectives.
What the agency found was that most health centers established the capability for meaningful objectives related to capturing data. However, many were struggling to meeting objectives related to sharing data. This is because sharing data often requires health centers to incur additional EHR-related costs. Seventy-six percent of health centers reported facing financial sustainability challenges. Many reports didn't even contain enough information related to the financial sustainability of EHR systems at health centers.
In terms of recommendations, HHS OIG says HRSA should use data to understand progress towards meaningful use objectives and to provide guidance and technical assistance to health centers, ensure that HCCN grantees provide information on the financial sustainability of EHR systems at health centers, and examine the feasibility of collecting information directly from health centers regarding the financial sustainability of their EHR systems.
HRSA concurred with all of HHS OIG's recommendations.