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June/July 2012 - Subscribe to Health Information Technology and Quality eNews

Events

  • June 22, 2PM ET: HRSA Health Information Technology (IT) and Quality Webinar, “Health IT Project Management 101: How to Avoid Failure” (Register Now) exit disclaimer
  • July 20, 2PM ET: HRSA Health IT and Quality Webinar, “Using Data for Evidence Based Quality Improvement” (Register Now) exit disclaimer

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's Keynote Speech at the Office of National Coordinator's "Health Data Palooza"

On June 6 and 7, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted the Annual Health Data Initiative exit disclaimer or “ Data Palooza.” Originally launched in 2010 by the Institute of Medicine exit disclaimer and HHS as the Community Health Data Initiative, this event is a public-private collaboration that encourages innovators to utilize health data to develop applications to raise awareness of health and health system performance and spark community action to improve health.

HHS Secretary Sebelius provided the keynote address for the event. She spoke to a crowd of more than 1,600 participants and emphasized the importance of health information technology (IT) in transforming the U.S. health care system and closing the health IT innovation gap in order to improve efficiency and quality. Secretary Sebelius stated, “This innovation gap is the underlying problem that contributes to all our other health care challenges.  That’s why this Administration has made closing this (innovation) gap one of our top priorities.” Secretary Sebelius outlined several health IT innovation examples supported by the Affordable Care Act that are creating positive results in this area.

Please click here to view HHS Secretary Sebelius’s “Data Palooza” speech. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Releases Health Information Technology (IT) Dashboard to Deliver Data on HHS Health IT Programs and the Nationwide Adoption of Health IT

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the launch of a new web-based tool that will make it easier for all Americans to monitor and measure how the nation’s health care system is performing.

The web-based tool, known as the Health System Measurement Project, will allow policymakers, providers, and the public to develop consistent data-driven views of changes in critical U.S. health system indicators.

The Health System Measurement Project brings together datasets from across the Federal government that span topical areas, such as access to care, cost and affordability, prevention and health information technology. It presents these indicators by population characteristics such as age, sex, income level, insurance coverage, and geography.

Using the Measurement Project, one can quickly view data on a given topical area from multiple sources, compare trends across measures and compare national trends with those at the State and regional level. For example, an individual could use the Measurement Project to monitor the percentage of people who have a specific source of ongoing medical care or track avoidable hospitalizations for adults and children by region or ethnic group.

For more information or to access the Health System Measurement Project, go to http://www.HealthMeasures.aspe.hhs.gov.

For more information about the Affordable Care Act, visit http://www.HealthCare.gov.

Department of Agriculture Awards $8 million in Telemedicine Grants

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for 52 distance learning and telemedicine projects that will increase access to health care and enhance educational opportunities in 29 States.

The projects announced total $14 million and include 19 distance learning projects, 32 telemedicine projects and one combined project. All will benefit rural counties. Nearly half of the total funding – 45 percent – will go to counties where the minority population is greater than 30 percent. Another 18 percent of this funding will benefit areas where the Native American population exceeds 30 percent. For a complete list of awards, please click here.

Since taking office, the Obama Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President is committed to using Federal resources more efficiently to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Office for the Advancement of Telehealth resides in the Office of Rural Health Policy and coordinates telehealth programs and issues across the safety net community. For more information on HRSA’s telemedicine programs and resources please visit their website.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Podcast “Health Information Technology and Home Health Care”

As the population ages and medical practices change, more people are taking care of themselves at home. A study funded by AHRQ looked at ways health information technology could be used to help people “age in place.”

For the podcast or transcript, please visit: http://healthcare411.ahrq.gov/radiocastseg.aspx?id=1280&type=seg.

New The American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) and the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) special issue on Integrating Primary Care and Public Health.

The articles in this issue, several of which were co-authored by HRSA staff, offer insight on how to advance and integrate primary care and public health to improve population health and promote health equity, especially in the areas of education, practice, and policy.  Articles describe lessons learned, perspectives, and accomplishments from health centers, health departments, academia and policy experts at the intersection of primary care and public health.

HRSA contributed to this unique collaboration, along with three other HHS agencies—the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention , and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities.  

This online-only journal will be available to its grantees, partners, staff, and the general public at no cost.  To access and download the articles, go to:
American Journal of Preventive Medicine (http://www.ajpmonline.org) exit disclaimer and American Journal of Public Health (http://www.ajph.org). exit disclaimer

National Quality Strategy: 2012 Annual Report to Congress Released

On April 30, 2012, HHS  released the “2012 Annual Progress Report to Congress on the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care (National Quality Strategy)” (PDF-816KB).  The report details the implementation of the National Quality Strategy over the past year and establishes key measures and goals that will be used to measure national progress in improving quality.

The Affordable Care Act calls for the National Quality Strategy to “improve the delivery of health care services, patient health outcomes, and population health.

The strategy presents three aims for the health care system:

  • Better Care: Improve the overall quality of care by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.
  • Healthy People and Communities: Improve the health of the U.S. population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, social, and environmental determinants of health in addition to delivering higher-quality care.
  • Affordable Care: Reduce the cost of quality health care for individuals, families, employers, and government.

Please visit the National Quality Strategy’s website for more information and to access the “2012 Annual Report to Congress.”  

Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) Publishes Two Quality Improvement Papers

  • “Clinical Quality Performance in U.S. Health Centers” describes clinical quality among the nation’s health centers, and examines health center characteristics associated with performance excellence. Data from the 2009 Uniform Data System (UDS) were analyzed, and six quality measures were examined: first-trimester prenatal care, childhood immunization completion, Pap tests, low birth weight, controlled hypertension, and controlled diabetes.
    Findings reveal that clinical care and outcomes among health centers are generally comparable to national averages. This article was published in the Health Services Research Journal and can be accessed through the BPHC website by visiting: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/publications/clinicalquality.pdf.
  • “Overweight/Obesity and Weight-related Treatment among Patients in U.S. Federally Supported Health Centers” describes the prevalence of overweight/obesity, weight perceptions, weight-loss attempts, and weight-related counseling and treatment among adult health center patients. Overall, 76 percent of adult patients were overweight or obese (BMI ≥ 25.0 kg/m2), which is higher than the general U.S. population. There were no racial/ethnic differences in BMI or self-perceptions of weight. About 60 percent of overweight/obese patients reported trying to lose weight in the past year. There were no racial/ethnic disparities favoring non-Hispanic White patients in weight-related treatment.  The article concludes by summarizing current efforts -- within HRSA and across HHS -- to address weight problems among vulnerable populations. This article was published in the Obesity Research and Clinical Practice Journal and can be accessed through the BPHC website by visiting: http://bphc.hrsa.gov/publications/obesitytreatment.pdf.

Two New Health Disparities Resources from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)

  • New  Briefing Paper: "Understanding the Impact of Health IT in Underserved Communities and Those with Health Disparities" (PDF-973KB)
  • HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (PDF-1.06 MB)

Health IT Workforce Updates

HIMSS JobMine- Connecting Health IT Professionals to Safety Net Providers

HIMSS Career Services Center, powered by HIMSS® JobMine, is excited to announce its expanded focus to meet the health IT career and workforce development needs of safety net providers throughout the United States.  Through this effort, HRSA grantees will be able to leverage the HIMSS ® JobMine site to post and search resumes, take advantage of career development services, and post job openings – all at no charge to these safety net providers.
Informational Webinar and Resources Available Online

Competency Exam for Health IT Professionals

Through an arrangement with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), HRSA has secured a limited number of vouchers for the health IT professional competency exams. These exams enable health IT professionals, employers, and other stakeholders to assess and validate their health IT competency levels. The exams may also be used by employers to identify training gaps and personnel needs integral to achieving meaningful use of electronic health information.

This voucher waives the exam fee for one time only and provides the opportunity for health IT professionals to take one of the six exams offered.  Individuals and health IT professionals interested in working with safety net providers can request a voucher for taking this professional competency exam.
For more information, visit ONC’s Competency Examination Program website.

To request a voucher or for additional questions, please contact healthit@hrsa.gov or visit HRSA’s Health IT Workforce webpage.

Meaningful Use Round Up

mHealth Updates

ICD-10 Update

New HRSA Health Information Technology and Quality Website Items

HRSA “Network Guide” Now Available

HRSA’s “Guide to Health Center Networks,” developed in collaboration with the National Association of Community Health Centers, is now available.  This Guide is a user-friendly resource for HRSA grantees, safety net providers, and all health care organizations seeking information and technical assistance with their quality improvement and operational efforts.  The Guide provides a central starting point to learn more about specific Health Center Networks and offers helpful tips to engage directly with potential Network partners.  The Guide was developed to support stakeholders in their consideration and selection of a Health Center Network.

The Guide includes valuable resources, such as data and tables, for helping safety net providers learn about health center networks.  The Guide contains data from more than 40 Networks on quality and health care delivery improvement, operational management, and  HIT in the safety net.  In addition, the guide has 25 tables of data to enable the user to distinguish among the networks’ different approaches, services, and areas of expertise, including information on accreditation programs, membership options and existing member organizations, registries/data warehouses, personal health records, electronic mobile health applications, health information exchanges, interfaces, electronic health records, and central IT and administrative function support. HRSA hopes this guide will be a valuable resource for safety providers seeking information with their quality improvement and health IT operational efforts.

A PDF of the guide may be downloaded through the HRSA Health IT Website.

Questions may be submitted to HRSA Health IT Mailbox at healthit@hrsa.gov

Two New HRSA Health Information Technology (IT) and Quality Webinars Available Online

Register for future events and access all previous webinars at  the HRSA Health IT and Quality Webinar website

Health Information Technology Grantee Spotlight: University of Michigan’s Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools “Improving Reimbursement Through Effective Use of a Cloud Based Practice Management System”

This month the Health Resources and Service Administration’s (HRSA) Health Information Technology (IT) website highlights the University of Michigan’s Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools ( The Regional Alliance)- a network of school based health centers located in Michigan. The Regional Alliance provides public health and clinical services to improve the well-being of over 2000 students annually including their families and communities. To help provide these health care services, The Regional Alliance uses a cloud based practice management system,   a web based software program accessed from a server. This health IT solution allows The Regional Alliance a durable and cost efficient health IT solution to meet various reporting requirements, manage resources, and capture reimbursement.

Read more about their story or access previous Health IT website Grantee Spotlights.

Quality Improvement Website Grantee Spotlight: “International Community Health Services Uses a Patient Advisory Council for Engaging Patients in their Healthcare”

HRSA’s Quality Improvement website is highlighting the International Community Health Services (ICHS) for their use of a Patient Advisory Council (PAC) to increase their patients’ participation and engagement in their own health care. ICHS is the largest Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander nonprofit community health center in Washington State and has successfully implemented a PAC to address challenges that patients encounter when communicating to providers about their health care. The effective use and focused activities of the PAC demonstrate that higher patient participation can lead to improved health outcomes and to increased quality of care.

Read more about their story or access previous HRSA Quality Improvement website Grantee Spotlights.