HRSA to assess grantees' progress in EHR adoption, support

The Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced its intent to seek progress reports to determine how well health center controlled networks (HCCNs) are helping health centers to adopt electronic health records and share data.

The announcement, published in the July 22 Federal Register, states that one of HRSA's goals is to ensure that all health center program recipients effectively implement health IT to enable providers to be meaningful users of EHRs. The HCCN program is a major component of that initiative. HRSA is seeking public comment on the information collection request before it submits it to the Office of Management and Budget.

HRSA wants annual reports to determine each HCCN's progress in achieving key goals, such as enhanced use of data exchange and the efficiency and effectiveness of HCCN services to health centers. The reports also will include the HCCN's implementation challenges, lessons learned and best practices.  

The information will be used to "inform new technical assistance needs" and evaluate the performance and outcome of the funding initiative, as well as help HRSA respond to questions about the program.

"In addition to meeting the goal of accountability to Congress, patients and the general public, information collected from the progress reports are critical for HRSA grantees and individual providers to assess the status of existing EHR systems and health outcomes for patients," the notice says.

Public comments on the information collection request are due Sept. 21.

One of HRSA's tasks is to study health IT adoption in certain situations. HRSA's information collection request may be in response to an OIG report published last year which found that the HCCNs had made uneven progress in helping providers adopt EHRs. 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 HHS Office of Inspector General recommended, among other things, that HRSA better 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.

To learn more:
- here's the notice