HRSA grantees making uneven progress in EHR capabilities

Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) grantees receiving the money to implement electronic health records have made uneven progress in their EHR capabilities, according to a new report published by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General.

HRSA has awarded $176.9 million in grants to health center controlled networks (HCCNs) to enable EHR adoption. OIG surveyed 233 HCCNs to determine their progress to date on EHR adoption, and found that while 72 percent had established the capability of meeting the core objectives of Stage 1 of the Meaningful Use program to capture data, only 24 percent had established the capability to share data with patients or other providers. Only 14 percent had the capability to meet all of the objectives for Stage 1 of Meaningful Use.

The report also revealed that sharing data creates additional financial obligations for the HCCNs which the grants don't cover. While 76 percent of respondents reported that they had "financial sustainability challenges," they weren't sharing this problem in their reports to HRSA, nor were they sharing their plans to sustain their EHR systems, an expectation of HRSA.

"When sustainability plans have limited information at the health-center level, HRSA may lack information on how HCCNs help or hinder health centers' efforts to financially sustain their EHR systems," the report stated.

OIG recommended, among other things, that HRSA use the data to understand the progress being made toward meeting the Meaningful Use objectives, provide guidance to the HCCNs, and ensure that the HCCNs report information regarding their financial sustainability of their EHRs.

OIG provides independent and objective oversight of more than 300 HHS programs. Its goals include fighting fraud, waste and abuse, promotion of quality, safety and value, and advancing excellence and innovation.  The security and integrity of EHRs is one of OIG's "key focus areas."

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)