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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology

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Organizations Safety Net Providers Can Collaborate With

Several types of organizations offer opportunities for collaboration, including:

Health Center Controlled Networks

Health Center Controlled Networks (HCCNs) were created to help Federally Qualified Health Centers and the safety net community with their health IT needs. Funded by grants from HRSA, HCCNs offer a wide range of health IT support services.

HCCNs are collaborations of three or more individual health centers, or other safety net participants. Primary care associations also can form HCCNs.

Safety net providers who use HCCNs are often called network members, and can receive technical assistance from the networks under different types of plans. Plan types can include dues or subscription fee structure, fee for individual services, or no-cost assistance (for qualified organizations).

In addition to general management and operational assistance, HCCNs offer different types of health IT-related assistance, including:

  • Support for adoption and use of health IT. HCCNs can help safety net providers select and contract with IT vendors, customize health IT tools, train staff to use EHRs, and other tasks. Many networks have arrangements with vendors to provide shared EHR technology for members.
  • Support for health information exchange. Many HCCNs help safety net providers participate in health information exchange networks that operate on a state, local, or regional level, as well as point-to-point exchange (e.g., provider to hospital) through interfaces between systems.

    Learn more about interoperability and heath information exchange.

  • Support for central IT functions. HCCNS also offer general IT support services, including providing software (e.g., email and MS Office), expertise (e.g., access to a Chief Information Officer), support for broadband connectivity, a central IT help desk, and a centrally hosted data warehouse.

Search for an HCCN in your area.

Read HRSA's Network Guide (PDF - .1.86 MB).

State Health Information Exchange Networks  

States are developing local and national health information exchange networks for use by providers. These networks offer secure data transport to allow data to follow the patient throughout the care delivery process. They can lower the provider costs of required health IT infrastructure. They also may help shorten implementation time frames, enabling providers to qualify faster for Meaningful Use payments.

Learn more about interoperability and heath information exchange.

State health information exchange networks offer a range of capabilities, commonly including:

  • Record locator service
  • Statewide provider directory
  • Secure messaging and exchange of electronic lab results
  • Electronic Master Patient Index

Read more about State exchange networks.

Regional Extension Centers 

Regional Extension Centers (RECs) support  adoption, implementation, and use of EHRs. Funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the RECs help providers select and purchase EHRs and assist them with attaining Meaningful Use. They can help connect providers to State networks, also called health information exchanges (HIEs).

Read about the services of RECs

Find an REC.

Other Organizations for Collaboration, Assistance, and Support

Safety net providers also can benefit from linking up with other groups, such as:  

  • State Medicaid offices. These offices can provide information about local collaboratives and State health information exchange programs. Locate contact information for your State Medicaid Office.
  • Beacon Communities. Originally funded by HRSA grants, many of these demonstration sites continue to operate. They can share models for and innovative approaches to successful EHR and health information exchange. They also can identify how to translate investments in health IT to measureable improvements in cost, quality, and population health.
    Learn more about the Beacon Communities program and find one near you.
  • Local resources. Local and State chapters of primary care associations and other health professional groups, local health centers, nearby hospitals, and labs can offer connections with other resources in the community that have experience with health IT.
  • Private health information exchange networks. Many state hospital associations, regional non-profits, and providers have formed their own health information exchanges and may allow other safety net providers to join. Information about these private networks may be available from the State Health IT Coordinator’s Office, a REC, your local primary care association, local hospitals and laboratories, other health centers, and clinicians in your area.
  • Organizations involved with the health insurance exchange marketplace. These organizations can provide information on how to use an EHR for insurance enrollment.
  • Local academic institutions. Academic institutions may be able to design evaluations of EHR performance, or provide interns who can support clinicians during early stages of implementation when providers must go through a learning curve that can cause a temporary slowdown in delivery of care.
  • Indian Health Service (IHS) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These offices provide “open source” EHR systems codes. The codes for these systems are free, but providers will need considerable funds to tailor and maintain them.
    Get information about the IHS Resource and Patient Management System.