HHS has allocated more than $87.4 million in health information technology grants to health and behavioral health centers throughout U.S. territories.
The money will be used to enhance electronic health records systems and to promote interoperability of those systems at 1,310 centers as they “transition to value-based models of care, improve efforts to share and use information to support better decisions, and increase engagement in delivery system transformation,” an HHS statement said.
Federally qualified health centers have benefited from inclusion by the Obama administration in the federal EHR incentive payment program that also helped make the "meaningful use" of EHRs near ubiquitous among hospitals and office-based physician practices.
According to a news release, nearly 1,400 health centers provide care to more than 24 million people.
New grant amounts ranged from $42,247 to support a single health center in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth, to $12.4 million to be divvied up between 168 clinics in California.
Funding comes under the authority of the 2010 Affordable Care Act's Community Health Center Fund as extended by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. All purchases of electronic health record systems must be systems compliant with testing and certification criteria developed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS.
“Health centers across the country are instrumental in providing high-quality, comprehensive primary healthcare to millions of people,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in the HHS statement. “This investment will help unlock healthcare data and put it to work, improving health outcomes and building a better health care system for the American people.”