You’ve got your 2016 IT Enhancement Grant—Now What?


Kathy A. Maddock, BSN, MSA, FACMPE
Vice President, Physician Enterprise Solutions
General Manager, Operations

Sage Growth Partners

Making the right spending choices can turn your grant into a bounty

FQHCs have been at the forefront of care delivery for the nation’s underserved and uninsured populations for more than 50 years. The need to deliver high quality, comprehensive health care to their communities—despite frequently lacking adequate funding—has helped make FQHCs strong and resourceful institutions.

Now, as the industry makes the shift to value-based care models, FQHCs are facing pressure to improve their ability to use and share information that supports better patient care decisions while increasing their engagement in delivery system transformation.

“This investment will help unlock health care data and put it to work, improving health outcomes and building a better health care system for the American people.” –Sylvia Burwell, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

To help FQHCs make this transition more easily, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced more than $87 million in funding for the nearly 1,400 FQHCs across the country. Targeted to support health information technology advancements in support of the transition to value-based care, this funding is a boon for some of the country’s most important and mission-driven care centers. The funding can be applied to one of the four following activity categories:

  1. Equipment and supplies purchases
  2. Health information system enhancements
  3. Training
  4. Data aggregation, analytics, and data quality improvement activities

Sage Growth Partners’ FQHC experts Michelle Martin and Chris DeMarco have assessed the grants and spoken to leaders from several large FQHCs to assess how to most wisely invest this money to gain the maximum return for an organization.

“One of the biggest concerns we see today relative to patient-centered medical homes is initiating and expediting communications with payers,” Martin said. “In many cases, FQHCs have hired additional staff to accommodate care coordination and ongoing data reporting of patient outcomes. At the same time, they need to increase their efforts when it comes to scrutinizing coding to make sure that all the chronic disease codes are present.”

Those kinds of stressors can be alleviated—and this new grant money can be a shot in the arm to drive transformation. By optimizing their EMRs and partnering with experienced population health vendors, these organizations can create a more effective data capture, analysis, and reporting solution to drive improved patient outcomes and increase savings.

“We’ve seen a lot of FQHCs work tirelessly to get EMRs implemented—optimization is a whole different ball game,” said DeMarco. “We know that most groups can get a lot further a lot faster with the help of the right partner.”

This grant represents the opportunity to power FQHCs in the coming years to enhance and improve their ability to deliver care and support services to their communities. Making smart choices about how to invest it can help your organization work to become a provider of choice in a market that’s becoming more competitive than ever before.