Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell has announced more than $36 million in funding for 50 Health Center Controlled Networks (HCCNs) that will aim to greatly increase health IT support across the country.
The HCCNs will be in 41 states and Puerto Rico, though HHS says that they will impact more than 1,020 participating health center organizations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. According to the federal agency, HCCNs improve 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.
Specifically, the networks support health center participation in the Federal Health Information Technology Strategic Plan to: adopt and implement certified electronic health record (EHR) technology; enhance comprehensive, integrated data collection, analysis, and reporting; meet the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs; and improve clinical and operational quality, reduce health disparities, and improve population health through health information technology.
The networks promote enhanced information sharing and support health centers in achieving the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs using Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)-certified EHRs, adopting technology-enabled quality improvement strategies, and engaging in health information exchange, HHS said.
Currently, nearly 1,400 health centers operate about 9,800 service delivery sites in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin. These health centers employ more than 170,000 staff who provide care for nearly 23 million patients. “Health Center Controlled Networks are a key tool in providing quality primary care to medically underserved communities,” Burwell said in a statement. “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.”