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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality
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HRSA Health IT Adoption Toolkit

What is the Health IT Toolbox?

Developed by HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Health IT Adoption Toolbox is a compilation of planning, implementation and evaluation resources to help community health centers, other safety net providers, and ambulatory care providers implement health IT applications in their facilities.  Staff from community health centers and a variety of stakeholders in the health IT arena have reviewed and contributed to the toolbox to ensure the resources are accurate, relevant, and effective in supporting health IT in health centers.

Who should use the Health IT Adoption Toolbox?

The Health IT Adoption Toolbox serves the needs of a broad audience within health centers, other safety net clinics, and ambulatory care provider sites. The toolbox is organized to support a range of stakeholders, from senior management to the staff charged with implementing health information systems.

What is included in the Health IT Adoption Toolbox?

The Health IT Adoption Toolbox is organized by 7 topic-specific modules and 4 special topics:

  1. Financing
  2. Staffing and Expertise
  3. Technology Assessment
  4. Opportunities for Collaboration
  5. System Implementation
  6. Organization Change Management and Training
  7. Evaluating, Optimizing, and Sustaining

Special Topics:

  1. Open Source and Public Domain Software
  2. Personal Health Records
  3. Privacy and Security
  4. Electronic Prescribing

While these modules cover the life cycle of a typical health IT implementation project - from learning the basics to evaluating and optimizing a system - different components of each module may be valuable to health centers at various stages of implementation. Also included are modules on advanced health IT topics, such as electronic prescribing, personal health records, and open source software. Each module contains a variety of resources ranging from sample project documentation to white papers on various topics.

What is the best way to use the Health IT Adoption Toolbox?

There is no one "right" way to use this toolbox. For those seeking an orientation to the toolbox, skimming each of the eleven modules will be effective for getting the "lay of the land" prior to diving into the specifics of any one module. The module-based question and answer framework is designed to help users find the information they need at different phases of a health IT implementation project.  This approach should also encourage users to ask the right questions and guide them to the answers.

What is Health IT?

 Health IT is healthcare information technology - the use of computer applications to record, store, protect, retrieve, and transfer clinical, administrative, and financial information electronically within health care settings. The ultimate goal of health IT is to improve population health and the quality and efficiency of patient care.

The resources below provide an introduction to various Health IT Topics.

Health IT background reading:

Key Topics:

Why implement Health IT?

Recent research demonstrates that increased use of information technology is an important step in improving quality of care and patient safety. The recent focus on health IT adoption was initiated by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report in 1999, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System go to exit disclaimer, which highlighted improved use of computerized applications as a core strategy for improving safety and quality of the healthcare system. 

Health IT has received substantial support from Federal agencies.  The Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) funded the National Resource Center for Health IT (NRC) in 2004 and approximately $166 million in health IT projects throughout the United States.  HRSA has supported the adoption of health IT by health centers, other safety net providers and ambulatory care providers since the 1980s through various grant programs ranging from operational funding to funding dedicated to EHR implementation.

Resources about the value of health IT:

  • Review of Research on Health IT Adoption, Costs, and Benefits (PDF - 581 KB) go to exit disclaimer - Developed by Southern California Evidence-based Practice Center for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (2006). This report systematically reviews the literature on the implementation of health IT systems in a variety of care settings.  It also assesses the costs and benefits of health IT for pediatric care, the ability of the EHR to improve quality of care in ambulatory care settings, the costs and cost-effectiveness of implementing an EHR, and the effect of health IT on improving patient-centered care.
  • What do EHRs Mean for Our Practice (PDF - 785 KB) - Developed by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Primary Care Information Project and Take Care New York (2007). Provides an introduction on the effects of EHR adoption on providers, administrators, nurses, medical assistants, front office staff and back office staff.

What is HRSA's vision for health IT?

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and its Office of Health Information Technology and Quality (OHITQ)  have begun to play a unique and critical role in the national strategy for health IT. HRSA's vision is to leverage the power of health IT to improve patient outcomes, quality, and reduce health disparities for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. As part of its mission, HRSA aims to provide health centers, other safety net providers, and ambulatory care providers with tools to successfully implement health IT in a manner appropriate for their and their patients' needs and abilities. The toolbox is a central component of this effort. In addition, OHITQ has initiated a Health IT Technical Assistance Center to support grantees that use the toolbox or who are otherwise engaged in health IT implementation.

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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