HHS announces $87M in funding to further health center IT efforts


The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $87 million to improve technology at 1,310 U.S. health centers.

The first significant investment since 2009 to directly support centers’ IT purchases, the funding will “help unlock healthcare data and put it to work,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in an announcement. HHS requires that all purchases or upgrades of electronic health record systems be from certified vendors.

The funding is in support of HHS goals, including accelerating the move to value-based care and improve data-sharing among providers.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 extended funding for this technology support, according to the announcement.

In July, HHS awarded $36 million to increase information sharing through 50 health center controlled networks. The funding was to help heath centers adopt electronics health record systems, integrate data from myriad sources and use analysis and reporting for quality improvement initiatives and health information exchange.

The agency also awarded $260 million in May to 290 health centers for renovation, expansion or construction to expand capacity.

The nearly 1,400 community health centers provide primary care to more than 24 million people, regardless of their ability to pay. They’re located in every U.S. state, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin.