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HHS Designates $87 Million for Health IT Enhancements

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) late last week announced $87 million in funding for more than 1,000 health centers across the United States and its territories to support health IT enhancements.

Over the past 50 years, health centers have delivered comprehensive, high‐quality primary health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay.  There are nearly 1,300 health centers operating across 9,000 delivery sites that provide care to 22.8 million patients across the United States.

Since 2009, health centers have increased the total number of patients served from 17.1 million to 22.8 million annually. They have also increased their employment from 113,000 to more than 170,000 staff.

“Health centers across the country are instrumental in providing high-quality, comprehensive primary health care to millions of people,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “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.”

The health centers will ideally accelerate their transition to value-based care models, improve sharing and using information to support patient care decisions, and increase engagement in delivery system transformation.  If purchasing or upgrading their EHR systems with this money, health centers must choose a technology that has been certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

This $87 million is the first significant investment in health centers and their health IT since 2009.

“These awards will allow health centers to deliver higher quality of care to patients and spend health care dollars in a smarter way,” said Jim Macrae, acting administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center Fund, and is part of the administration’s efforts to build a health care system that delivers smarter patient care.

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