HHS awards $107M for health centers, recognizes excellence in HIT and telehealth

Its Quality Improvement Awards recognize the nation’s health centers. Its Advancing Health IT for Quality Awards recognize health centers that used HIT or telehealth services to increase access to care and advance quality.
By Nathan Eddy
11:19 AM
HHS awards $107M for health centers, recognizes excellence in HIT and telehealth

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it is awarding nearly $107 million to nearly 1,300 health centers across all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia.

WHAT HAPPENED

The Quality Improvement Awards recognize the nation’s health centers – funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration – that have demonstrated excellence in areas such as behavioral health, diabetes prevention and management, and heart health.

The Advancing Health Information Technology for Quality Awards recognize health centers that used five health IT services or telehealth services to increase access to care and advance quality of care between 2017 and 2018.

WHY IT MATTERS

Health centers are important first line of care facilities for combating epidemics like the opioid crisis and serving as a key point of entry for the detection, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of HIV.

In Massachusetts, for example, 38 health centers received awards totaling north of $3 million, including 35 health centers that received $187,000 for advancing HIT for quality.

California, the nation’s most populous state, received $15.3 million in funding, followed by New York with $6.4 million and Texas with around $5 million in funding.

The Quality Improvement Awards recognize the highest performing health centers nationwide as well as those health centers that have made significant quality improvement gains from the previous year.

ON THE RECORD

“Health Resources and Services Administration-funded health centers continue to lead the U.S. healthcare system in providing quality, value-based care to their communities,” Health Resources and Services Administration acting administrator Tom Engels said in a statement. “Today we are recognizing nearly all Health Resources and Services Administration-funded health centers for their continued improvements on clinical quality measures and supporting them to continue as quality leaders nationwide in the years to come.”

THE LARGER TREND

The announcement follows news earlier this month that HHS is awarding nearly $400 million to combat the nation’s opioid crisis as part of its five-point strategy to curb the epidemic.

The Health Resources and Services Administration, the body responsible for disbursing the funds, said the money would help enable community health centers, rural providers and academic institutions to expand the availability of integrated substance use disorder and mental health services.

The Health Resources and Services Administration also is awarding some $70 million to fund Opioid Workforce Expansion Programs for both professionals and paraprofessionals, and $17 million to fund awardees at a Graduate Psychology Education Program.

Back in July, HHS announced $20 million would be doled out across more than two dozen organizations through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s new Rural Residency Planning and Development Program grants.

These grants will help states launch new residency programs over the next three years while achieving accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

All these investments are taking place as HHS embarks on a year-long Quality Summit designed to foster conversation among key stakeholders and government leaders about the effectiveness of the existing portfolio of healthcare quality programs currently administered.

Participants are comprised of government stakeholders and approximately 15 non-government healthcare industry leaders, who will offer critical insight into discussions surrounding the modernization of HHS’s quality programs that will build upon a patient-centered approach aimed at increasing competition, quality and access to care.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209