Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced the availability of nearly $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 identify and reduce health disparities.
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.
“Health centers are vital to increasing equitable access to primary health care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “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.”
“HRSA’s funding has supported our nation’s health centers in becoming leaders in leveraging the latest technology and data to provide high-quality care to individuals and communities who have been historically underserved,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Today’s announcement builds on this work and will help health centers modernize their data tools to improve equitable access to care and continue to best meet the needs of the communities and patients they serve.”
The funding announced today can be used for various COVID-19 activities and for modifying, enhancing, and expanding health care services and infrastructure by improving health information technology, enhancing data collection, and supporting related staff training. These efforts will advance broader COVID-19 response, mitigation, and recovery efforts. Additionally, they will help 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. 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.
Since March of 2021, HRSA has awarded approximately $6 billion to health centers to support and expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment for populations at higher risk for COVID-19; nearly $1 billion in major construction to increase health care access in health centers and approximately $32 million to enhance COVID-19 related training and technical assistance support.
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 1 in 11 people nationwide. More than 90% of HRSA-funded health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and nearly 63% are racial or ethnic minorities.
Applications are due in HRSA’s Electronic Handbooks by 5:00 p.m. ET on Monday, May 23, 2022. Visit the American Rescue Plan UDS+ Supplemental Funding technical assistance webpage for the notice of funding opportunity, technical assistance information, and other resources.