HHS puts $90M toward improving health center data collection

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The Department of Health and Human Services launched a $90 million initiative to get its health centers the data they need to reduce health disparities using remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds.

A modernized data collection and reporting initiative, called Uniform Data System Patient-Level Submission (UDS+), will fund Health Resources and Services Administration-designated health centers’ efforts to gather more and better information on social determinants of health.

The $90 million funding was left over from $1 billion HRSA made available through the American Rescue Plan-Capital funding opportunity in April 2021. Slightly more than $950 million was awarded at the time for health center construction.

USD+ comes as the White House’s Equitable Data Working Group releases recommendations on advancing the use of such information governmentwide and targets health centers in medically underserved communities — often disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Health centers are vital to increasing equitable access to primary health care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in Thursday’s announcement. “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.”

USD+ will further streamline health centers’ data quality reporting and help them better target community needs with funding available for COVID-19 efforts, as well as improving health IT, data collection and related training. HRSA currently plans to award about $60,000 per awardee around August 1, 2022.

New health center enhancements will boost patient-level reporting and investigations into disparities in health care use and outcomes by race, ethnicity, age and other demographics. Data standardization will help health centers identify the most at-risk populations and necessary clinical interventions and participate in disease surveillance during future outbreaks.

Health centers have until 5 p.m. ET on May 23, 2022 to apply for the supplemental funding.

HRSA has awarded about $6 billion to expand COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and treatment for high-risk populations; $1 billion to increase access through construction; and $32 million to provide COVID-19-related training and technical assistance at health centers since March 2021. More than 90% of HRSA health centers’ patients live at or below 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines, and nearly 63% are racial or ethnic minorities.

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American rescue plan, data, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), health centers, health equity, health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Xavier Becerra
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