EHR Quality Reporting Rewarded through $36.3M in HHS Funding | EHRintelligence.com | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it
EHR quality reporting led to $4.9 million in ACA awards to 332 health centers.

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has rewarded the quality improvement efforts of health centers with $36.3 million in Affordable Care Act (ACA) funding.

“This funding rewards health centers that have a proven track record in clinical quality improvement, which translates to better patient care, and it allows them to expand and improve their systems and infrastructure to bring the highest quality primary care services to the communities they serve,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in an official statement.

The rewards spans four distinct kinds of quality improvement achievements.

The first award went to 361 health centers and totaled $11.2 million for health center quality leaders, those clinical settings scoring in the top 30 percent of all health centers based on best overall clinical outcomes.

The second award of $2.5 million rewarded 57 national quality leaders for surpassing national clinical standards for chronic disease, preventive care, and perinatal/prenatal care.

Clinical quality improvers — demonstrated at least a 10-percent improvement in clinical quality measures between 2012 and 2013 — were recipients of largest sum of awards, $17.7 million. The award goes to 1,058 health centers.

The last category of awards recognized 332 EHR reporters which received $4.9 million for reporting clinical quality measures (CQMs) for their entire patient population.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), ACA-established Health Center Program comprises close to 1,300 health centers operating in more than 9,200 delivery sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories and treating approximately 21.7 million patients.

The ACA earmarked $11 billion to be disbursed over a five-year period to support the creation, expansion, and operation of health centers.

In the past year alone, 43 Health Center Controlled Networks received $21 million in rewards specifically for EHR adoption and meaningful use with requirements to “include at least 10 Health Center Program grantees and overall will provide support to more 700 health centers nationwide.”

In a recent brief, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) demonstrated that incentive dollars and looming financial penalties are driving EHR adoption and meaningful use.

The chance to benefit from tens of thousands of dollars from the EHR Incentive Programs was cited as a major influence for 62% of physician providers participating in the 2013 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Physician Workflow Survey. Another major factor were the ONC-funded regional extension centers whose availability during Stage 1 Meaningful Use and beyond influenced 35 percent of respondents to adopt a certified EHR technology and demonstrate meaningful use as part of the EHR Incentive Programs.

The major takeaway from the HHS and ONC announcements is the integral role health IT-related funding in the form of incentives or awards plays in transforming the care delivery and coordination through the innovative use of technology.