The javascript used on this site for creative design effects is not supported by your browser. Please note that this will not affect access to the content on this web site.
Skip Navigation
H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality

A-Z Index  |  Questions?  |  Order Publications  |  HRSA Mobile

HRSA's November/December Health IT and Quality Newsletter


 November/December 2011 - Subscribe to Health Information Technology and Quality eNews

Health IT and Quality Events

  • HRSA HIT and Quality Webinar, “Tips For Overcoming the Gray Areas of Meaningful Use Stage 1 for Safety Net Providers,” December 13, 2011, 2PM ET  - Register

  • HIV/AIDS Bureau Webinar, “Oral Health Exams in Primary Care Settings” December 13, 2011, 2PM ET. CME credit is available for this course. Register  

  • HHS Webinar: “Text4baby: Advances in Health Text Messaging for Maternal Care”, December 14th, 12PM ET -  Register

  • HRSA HIT and Quality Webinar: “Tips For Engaging Safety Net Patients Using Health IT,” Friday, January 20, 2PM ET - Register

Health IT Workforce News and Resources

Secretary Sebelius Visits Cleveland, Ohio, Area Community College to Promote Health IT Workforce Programs

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently visited Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. Cuyahoga Community College’s Health IT workforce program is funded through Office of the National Coordinator’s (ONC)Health IT Community College program. During the Secretary’s visit, she announced new actions to speed the use of health IT in doctors’ offices and hospitals nationwide, which will improve health care and create jobs nationwide.

“When doctors and hospitals use health IT, patients get better care and we save money,” said Secretary Sebelius.  “We’re making great progress, but we can’t wait to do more. Too many doctors and hospitals are still using the same record-keeping technology as Hippocrates. Today, we are making it easier for health care providers to use new technology to improve the health care system for all of us and create more jobs.”

In addition to improving the health care system, data indicate that the national transition to health IT is creating jobs.  More than 50,000 health IT-related jobs have been created since the enactment of the HITECH Act.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of health IT jobs across the country is expected to increase by 20 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018.

For more information on ONC’s Health IT Workforce Community College Program, please visit HRSA’s Health IT Workforce website. 

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 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 examinations 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 to health IT professionals to take one of the six exams offered.  Individuals working with safety net providers and health IT professionals interested in working with safety net providers can request a voucher for taking this exam.

For more information, visit ONC’s Competency Examination Program website. 

To request a voucher or for additional questions please contact or visit HRSA’s Health IT Workforce website.

CMS Releases Accountable Care Organizations Rule

In late October, Secretary Sebelius and former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, Dr. Don Berwick announced a new program providing incentives for Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). This program was created under the Affordable Care Act and is designed to encourage primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals, and other health care providers to coordinate their care. This new program is important for HRSA grantees because it expands participation to Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers and organizations where specialists deliver primary care, and provides a flexible starting date in 2012.

For more information, please visit CMS’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) website. 

MCHB Report: New Report Finds Children in Rural Areas Face Different Health Challenges

Children in rural areas are more likely to face different challenges to their health and have less access to care when compared with children in urban areas, according to a new report from HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). The National Survey of Children’s Health exit disclaimer (NSCH): The Health and Well-Being of Children in Rural Areas: A Portrait of the Nation in 2007 is published every four years. It examines the overall health of rural children in the United States from birth to 17 years. The report finds greater prevalence of certain physical, emotional, behavioral and developmental conditions in rural areas. For example:

  • Children living in rural areas are more likely to have public insurance, such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, while urban children are more likely to be privately insured.

  • The percentage of children with chronic conditions such as obesity, asthma and diabetes is highest among teenagers living in small rural areas. (this bullet should come first)  

For more in-depth information about the report and its findings, see the full report. 

BPHC Update: 500 FQHCs Receive $42M as Part of PCMH CMS Demo Project

In October, CMS announced funding for the FQHC Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration Program. This program will show how the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model can improve quality of care, promote better health, and lower costs. Operated by CMS in partnership with HRSA, the project will test the effectiveness of doctors and other health professionals working in teams to coordinate and improve care for up to 195,000 Medicare patients. Participating FQHCs are expected to achieve Level 3 patient-centered medical home recognition, help patients manage chronic conditions, and actively coordinate care for patients. To help participating FQHCs make these investments in patient care and infrastructure, they will be paid a monthly care management fee for each eligible Medicare beneficiary receiving primary care services. In return, FQHCs agree to adopt care coordination practices that are recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance exit disclaimer (NCQA). CMS and HRSA will provide technical assistance to help FQHCs achieve these goals.

Learn more about the FQHC Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration program.

HHS Issues Final Standards for Collecting Minority Health Data

Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Howard Koh has announced an important milestone in collecting data for reducing racial and health disparities. New standards  mandated by the Affordable Care Act will improve the collection of data on HHS-sponsored surveys.

Assistant Secretary Koh states, “With respect to race and ethnicity, we can now collect more data on key groups. For example, by adding Mexican American and Chicano/a, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Other Hispanic Latino/a or Spanish origin as explicit categories on all HHS-sponsored health surveys, we can better capture, understand and act upon the specific challenges presented by each ethnic group -- challenges that would otherwise be lost under broader terms, like "Hispanic" or "Latino." Such detail could possibly shed light on health problems such as initial studies that suggest the diabetes-related mortality rate for Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans may be twice as high as that seen for Cuban Americans.”

The Department's data collection efforts under these new standards will continue to ensure privacy protection and apply all appropriate information security safeguards in the collection, analysis, and sharing of data.

For more on the final data standards on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, visit the Office of Minority Health website. 

ICD-10 Update

CMS Announces Enforcement Discretion Period for HIPAA Version 5010

Correction: "The compliance deadline of January 1, 2012 remains unchanged for Version 5010. CMS announced a period of discretionary enforcement and described those terms in our messages. Grantees should continue to work in close collaboration with their partners to explore potential impacts and compliance strategies."

CMS has announced a three-month enforcement discretion period during which it will not enforce against HIPAA covered entities that accept non-compliant HIPPA Version 5010, NCPDP 3.0 and NCPDP D.0 standards.  This enforcement discretion period ends March 31, 2012. HRSA encourages all grantees all grantees and safety net providers to continue to working towards meeting the January 1, 2012 standards’ deadline, as well as the October 1, 2013 ICD-10 code set deadline.

For more information, see ICD-10 Conversion for Safety Net Providers.


CMS Posts New ICD-10 Handbook

CMS has developed four Implementation Handbooks to assist providers in transitioning to ICD-10. These handbooks are step-by-step guides specifically for small and medium provider practices, large provider practices, small hospitals, and payers.

For more information, visit the CMS ICD-10 website. 

mhealth News

For more news, visit the Federal mHealth website .

Meaningful Use Round-Up

Health IT Grantee Spotlight Features MCHB’s Effective Follow-Up Grantees

This month HRSA’s Health IT Website highlights the work of HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s (MCHB) Effective Follow-Up Program grantees. MCHB’s Effective Follow-Up program funds four states (Colorado, Indiana, New York, and Utah) to facilitate the use of electronic health information exchange (HIE) for improving care coordination in State newborn screening systems.  These four States successfully implemented a statewide HIE to electronically exchange clinical information in a secure, organized, and efficient manner that greatly benefits patients, providers, and State public health agencies. In addition, these MCHB grantees have established a number of best practices for improving health outcomes.

For more grantee stories, visit the Health IT Grantee Spotlight website. 

Quality Improvement Grantee Spotlight - National Health Service Corps Grantees Improve Patient Diabetes Preventive Care

This month HRSA’s Quality Improvement Web site highlights the work of two National Health Service Corps (NHSC) clinicians and their work in preventing diabetes within their patient populations.  Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating disease that affects every organ system, and is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.  Diabetes affects nearly 26 million people, and another 79 million people are at increased risk for developing this condition. The NHSC helps to build healthy communities by supporting health care providers working in areas of the United States with limited access to care. The NHSC participants detailed in this spotlight have chosen to focus on the prevention and treatment of diabetes in their communities.  

For more grantee stories, visit the Quality Improvement Grantee Spotlight website. 


HHS Secretary Sebelius Speaks About the Benefits of Mobile Health Apps During mHealth Summit exit disclaimer (12/6/2011)

White House: Text4baby Shows Promising Results for Moms (12/02/2011)

HHS Announces Changes to Timeline for Meaningful Use (11/30/2011)

USDA Grants $6M for Telemedicine, Other Rural Health Projects (11/21/2011)

ONC Announces More Than 100K Doctors Working with Regional IT Extension Centers to Qualify for Meaningful Use (11/17/2011)

More News>>