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HHS Announces $90 Million to Support Data-Driven Efforts for Health Centers

HHS Announces $90 Million to Support Data-Driven Efforts for Health Centers

On April 21, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced via a press release the availability of approximately $90 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support new data-driven efforts for HRSA Health Center Program-supported health centers and look-alikes (HRSA-designated health centers) to recognize and decrease health disparities.

The release states that “HRSA’s modernized data collection and reporting initiative, called Uniform Data System Patient-Level Submission (UDS+), is designed to collect more and better data on social determinants of health, while also streamlining and improving data quality reporting for health centers. This effort will enable health centers to tailor their efforts to improve health outcomes and advance health equity, more precisely targeting the needs of specific communities or patients.”

The funds, according to the release, can be used for COVID-19 activities and for enhancing healthcare services infrastructure by improving health IT, boosting data collection, and supporting related staff training. The efforts aim to advance COVID-19 response, mitigation, and recovery efforts, as well as prepare for future public health emergencies.

“The enhancements that health centers may make to their infrastructure using ARP-UDS+ funds will support patient-level reporting and enable them to better identify, measure, and investigate disparities in health care use and health outcomes by race, ethnicity, age, and other important demographic factors, and to more precisely target their resources accordingly,” the release adds. “Standardization of patient-level health data will enable the identification of populations most at risk for health disparities and will provide data to inform potential clinical interventions. Furthermore, the ability to collect, house, and report standardized patient-level health data will support health centers’ participation in critical population health surveillance activities during public health emergencies.”

HS Secretary Xavier Becerra was quoted in the release saying that “Health centers are vital to increasing equitable access to primary healthcare. The Biden-Harris Administration has made historic investments in health centers, and this funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will further enable health centers to utilize data to meet the needs of their community and help reduce gaps in care.”

Moreover, “HRSA-supported health centers serve medically underserved populations and communities, which are often disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Health centers serve 1 in 5 people living in rural communities, and one in 11 people nationwide. More than 90 percent of HRSA-funded health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and nearly 63 percent are racial or ethnic minorities.”

Applications are due in HRSA’s Electronic Handbooks by 5:00 p.m. ET on May 23, 2022. Additional resources can be found here.