HHS Gives $36.3 Million in Quality Improvement Rewards

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $36.3 million of Affordable Care Act funding to 1,113 health centers for their various quality improvement achievements. HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced the awards -- which were given to healthcare organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and seven U.S. Territories – earlier this month.

Health centers also received funding to help invest in their ongoing quality improvement programs. 

"This funding rewards health centers that have a proven track record in clinical quality improvement, which translates to better patient care, and it allows them to expand and improve their systems and infrastructure to bring the highest quality primary care services to the communities they serve," Burwell says. "With these funds, health centers in all 50 states will continue to provide access to high quality, comprehensive primary and preventive health care to the patients that need it the most."

Health centers that received funding had achieved improvements in areas such as chronic disease management, preventive care and the use of EHRs to report quality data. The awards were divided into four categories:

*Health center quality leaders awards, which were given to health centers that were among the top 30% of all healthcare organizations that achieved the best overall clinical outcomes, demonstrating their ability to focus on quality in all aspects of operations. HHS gave 361 health centers a total of $11.2 million in this category.

*National quality leader awards, which were given to health centers that exceeded national clinical benchmarks for chronic disease management, preventive care and perinatal/prenatal care, demonstrating the critical roe that health centers play in promoting higher quality health care nationwide. HHS gave 57 health centers a total of $2.5 million in this category.

*Clinical quality improvers awards, which were given to health centers that demonstrated a least a 10% improvement in clinical quality measures between 2012 and 2013. HHS gave 1,058 healthcare organizations a total of $17.7 million in this category.

*Electronic health records reporters awards, which were given to health centers if they used EHRs to report clinical quality measure data on all their patients, which HHS noted was a key transformational step in driving quality improvement for all patients. It gave 332 health centers a total of $4.9 million dollars in this category. 

EHR reporter awards were given in $15,000 increments, while the other awards varied from around $3,100 to $64,000, depending on the organization's quality improvement projects.