HRSA gives community health IT efforts a shot in the arm

Six community health center networks will receive a total of $3 million in grants to boost information technology use, the Health Resources and Services Administration announced this week.

The grants, funded by the Affordable Care Act, are in addition to $18 million in grant money awarded to 37 health center networks last December. In September 2011, HRSA awarded $8.5 million in grants to a total of 85 community centers for health IT, also distributed under the aegis of the ACA.

"Today's investments help advance critical health information technology adoption in more than 100 health centers throughout the U.S., and provide patients access to higher quality healthcare," HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield said in a statement.

The networks receiving grants include:

  • Community Health Centers Alliance in St. Petersburg, Fla. - $400,000
  • Georgia Association for Primary Health Care in Decatur, Ga. - $625,000
  • Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers in Boston - $700,000
  • North Carolina Community Health Center Association in Raleigh - $550,000
  • Health Center Network of New York - $400,000
  • Public Health Management Corporation in Philadelphia - $399,091

In May, HRSA submitted an information collection request on the Rural Health Information Technology Network Development Program to the Office of Management and Budget for public comment and approval. According to the request, HRSA sought the authority to collect performance measures to provide data useful to the program, as required by congress. The measures included: (a) access to care; (b) the underinsured and uninsured; (c) workforce recruitment and retention; (d) sustainability; (e) health information technology; (f) network development; and  (g) health related clinical measures.

Rural providers historically have encountered barriers in the EHR adoption process, including lack of broadband, the distances between providers, and the lack of availability of technical assistance. 

To lean more:
- read the HRSA announcement