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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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What other federal agencies support health IT adoption and Meaningful Use?

Increased use of health IT is an important step in improving quality of care and patient safety. The focus on health IT adoption was initiated by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report in 2000, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, Exit Disclaimer which highlighted improved use of computerized applications as a core strategy for improving safety and quality of the healthcare system. Later, in 2001, the IOM released another report, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, Exit Disclaimer which focused additional attention on the role health IT can play in providing health care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable.

In addition to HRSA support, several Federal agencies provide funding to promote health IT adoption. The Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) funded the National Resource Center for Health IT (NRC) in 2004 and funded approximately $166 million in health IT projects throughout the United States. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) was created by Executive Order in 2004 and was created in law in 2009 under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. ONC is the “principal Federal entity charged with coordination of nationwide efforts to implement and use the most advanced health information technology and the electronic exchange of health information.”

Under HITECH, HHS supports multiple programs and tools to improve health care safety and quality through health IT. One such program is the CMS Medicaid and Medicare EHR Incentive program, whereby eligible professionals (including oral health providers) and hospitals can qualify for incentive payments by adopting, certifying, and meaningfully using EHR technologies. Other programs include the Beacon Community Program, the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program, the Health Information Technology Extension Programs (also called the Regional Extension Centers), and the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) Program. A complete list of the programs supported by ONC under HITECH can be found here. More information on Meaningful Use and the components which are most applicable to oral health providers is available in Section 3 of this Module.  

The 2011 HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities also discusses adoption of health information technology, specifically including as Strategy I.C.2 the goal to “improve outreach for and adoption of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to improve care through the Regional Extension Centers program and other federal grant programs.” Strategy I.C.4 from the same report also discusses the importance of increasing access to dental care among Medicaid and CHIP patients.

Additional resources about the importance of health IT – both in general and with respect to oral health – are available below:

  • ONC Overview of Meaningful Use – This website from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) provides a list of ways EHRs can improve care. It also discusses benefits for both patients and providers and presents an overview of relevant legislation and regulations pertaining to EHR adoption.
  • The “Meaningful Use” Regulation for Electronic Health Records Exit Disclaimer – Article by Dr. David Blumenthal and Marilyn Tavenner, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August 2010.
  • Review of Research on Health IT Adoption, Costs, and Benefits - 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.
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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