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Health Center Controlled Network Frequently Asked Questions

The fiscal year (FY) 2024 Health Center Controlled Network (HCCN) Non-Competing Continuation (NCC) Progress Report instructions are available on the HCCN TA webpage.

These are questions and answers for the FY 2024 HCCN NCC Progress Report.


What kinds of equipment and supplies are allowable for HCCNs to purchase for PHCs?

HCCN funding can be used for equipment or supplies that directly support achieving the HCCN objectives. Equipment and supplies must be available to all PHCs in your network. Demonstrate in your budget narrative that the equipment or supplies you are proposing to purchase:

  • Directly helps PHCs access and efficiently use digital health tools such as electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth, patient portals, and electronic registries, along with virtual care platforms that support their integration, and
  • Support PHCs to translate e robust clinical and population data into quality improvement and culturally competent, patient-centered care using, in part, data collected through digital health tools.

For example, it may be an allowable cost if you identify a significant need across your network for specific data collection and reporting software that will support data standardization and integration, and make this software available to all your PHCs.

Allowable costs for equipment and supplies excludes general office, medical or diagnostic items for use at the PHC level. 

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Will the executive salary cap be applied to FY 2024 HCCN funding?

Yes, the executive salary cap is applied to FY 2024 HCCN funding, and is $221,900 as of January 2024. 

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Can we contract or consult for key technical skills from external subject experts?

Yes, you may contract for external subject experts. If you do this, provide information about them in your Project Narrative Update, Budget Narrative, and Attachment 6: Summary of Contracts and Agreements.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Will I have to submit a new staffing plan if a new staff member joined the project? What if a current staff member moves to a position categorized as a “key project staff”?

Yes, upload an updated staffing plan as Attachment 3: Staffing Plan

If a staff member has moved to a position that is considered “key project staff” on your HCCN project, upload their biographical sketch as Attachment 5: Biographical Sketches for Key Project Staff.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Participating health centers

How do HCCNs benefit their PHC?

As an HCCN, you 

  • Support PHCs with health information technology (IT) and data needs with a specific focus on improvements in clinical quality, patient-centered care, and provider and staff well-being. 
  • Support your PHCs both individually and collectively to address clinical and operational needs that include strengthening care coordination, reducing administrative burden through improved workflows, utilizing digital health tools, and facilitating data exchange with local, state/territory, and national public health bodies. 
  • Provide specialized training and technical assistance to leverage economies of scale, such as group purchasing power, shared resources and training, and data analytics to support quality measurement and improvement. 
  • Assist health centers with implementing the transition to UDS+ for the 2023 UDS cycle. 

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

What do PHCs commit to by signing an HCCN’s MOA?

A PHC should commit to work with you for the remainder of the three-year period of performance, to address each objective, and provide annual data. If a PHC has already met an objective, they only need to provide data for that objective and are not required to take part in related activities. It is important for PHCs to work closely with you to develop an individual work plan so they can receive health IT and data support specific to their needs.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

How should I update the “Number of Sites (Baseline)” field on the Progress Report Table?

Do not edit this field if the PHC was in your network and submitted with your FY 2022 application. 

Edit this field only if this field is blank. Enter the number of sites at the time the PHC was added to your network. The Progress Report Table can’t be submitted if the field is left blank.

(Added 1/18/23)

Is it possible for a PHC to report data on the Progress Report Table for a budget period or calendar year as opposed to the 8/1/22 start date currently in place?

PHCs must report data as of 8/1/2022 because that is the beginning of the period of performance. This date allows you to accurately track how your PHCs are working towards achieving targeted objectives in alignment with the current HCCN period of performance.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Is the 40-page limit for the Progress Report listed in the instructions required, and what is included in the page count?

The 40-page limit is suggested to give you a guide on the level of detail we expect in progress report submissions. This page count includes all attachments specified in the instructions. EHBs forms don’t count towards the page limit.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Objective 1 – Patient engagement

What are integrated digital health tools and how often should they be used to count towards the objective measure?

There are various integrated digital health tools that PHCs can use for patient engagement including electronic messages sent through patient portals to providers, telehealth visits, and reporting remote monitoring device data. If a patient has used integrated digital health tools at least once during the reporting period between in-person visits to communicate health information with the PHC, this will count towards the "80% of patients" requirement for this objective. The communication must be two-way; for example, a population health management tool may be acceptable but one-way texting tools may not.

The reporting period for the FY 2024 HCCN NCC progress report is from 8/1/2022 through 12/31/2023.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Does the patient engagement numerator exclude surveys?


(Updated: 2/12/2024)

For the patient engagement numerator, can we include communication if health information is not being communicated, such as appointment reminders, or scheduling?

If it was included when you calculated your data for your previous NCC, you may include communication regarding the patient’s healthcare. Examples include appointment reminders, portal messages, general clinic outreach for routine vaccine availability.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Objective 2 – Patient privacy and cybersecurity

For the Progress Report Table: Can a PHC include patient privacy and cybersecurity practices it had implemented prior to 8/1/2022 in its response?

A PHC can include previously implemented practices if they were reviewed or modified since 8/1/2022. Reach out to your project officer for further clarification. 

(Added: 2/13/2023)

For the Progress Report Table: What secure health information practices that protect patient privacy should be included?

PHCs can include any health information practices reviewed, revised, and newly implemented since 8/1/2022. The practices listed can include any Administrative, Physical and Technical options that may tie back to the HIPAA Safeguards that are currently in place.

Additional Health IT and cybersecurity resources are available on the NCC TA webpage, including: Reassessing Your Security Practices in a Health IT Environment: A Guide for Small Health Care Practices (PDF - 74 KB).

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Objective 3 – Social risk factor intervention

What does "closed loop" referral mean?

Closed loop referrals are digital mechanisms that allow PHCs to electronically send a consultation request and other pertinent background information to a specialist or community based organization, and then receive a consultation summary and any other relevant information back following the completion of any tests or care coordination, without leaving the workflow of the EHR. The goal of a closed loop referral is the transfer of relevant clinical information in both directions to track outcomes. Closed loop referrals can often address social risk factors.

(Added: 2/12/2024)

Objective 4 – Disaggregated, patient-level data

Can you describe the electronic clinical quality measures (eCQM) and UDS+ data fields “test messages” that will be sent using Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR) based application programming interfaces (APIs)?

Test messages are connections via FHIR based APIs that send mock or real eCQM reports or data consistent with UDS+ reporting. Messages are sent to the upcoming UDS+ FHIR "sandbox" endpoint OR during other tests such as HL7 FHIR Connectathons in support of data exchange activities. Those activities can include, but are not limited to, the Da Vinci Data Exchange for Quality Measures (DEQM) or Making EHR Data More available for Research and Public Health (MedMorph) FHIR IGs streams.

(Added: 1/4/2022)

How can I learn about UDS+ system requirements for sending test messages and setting targets?

The UDS Resources and UDS Modernization Initiative webpages have been updated to include information about UDS+ initiative, including information on how to volunteer to participate in UDS+ proof of concept and testing activities. 

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

For the Progress Report Table: Which test messages should be counted for electronic clinical quality measures (eCQM) and UDS+ data fields using Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR) based application programming interfaces (APIs)?

PHCs should include only test messages sent directly by the PHC. They should not include any test messages from EMR vendors.


Objective 5 – Interoperable data exchange and integration

Can data be integrated into a population health management tool instead of an EHR?

No, to meet the objective requirement, data must be integrated into structured EHR fields. Data integrated from population health management tools will count towards the external clinical and/or non-clinical data sources requirement of the objective.

(Added: 1/4/2022)

Can data, such as laboratory or radiology test results or drug monitoring program information, count towards the objective measure?

Yes, data integrated into structured EHR fields using a digital health platform will count towards the objective requirement. Information that is entered as free text or as attachments will not.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Objective 6 – Data utilization

Are predictive analytics with data visualization, natural language processing, and machine learning use required to meet the advanced data strategies requirement for the objective measure?

No, these are not the only advanced data strategies that will count towards the meeting objective measure requirement. Reach out to your project officer to confirm that your specific advanced data strategy meets this requirement. 

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

Objective 7 – Leveraging digital health tools

For the Progress Report Table: Can the formal trainings that promote proficiency in using digital health tools include trainings provided by a vendor or the HCCN?

PHCs can count training provided by you or a vendor if PHC providers and staff are the intended audience. 

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

For the Progress Report Table: Can a PHC include a point-to-point interface with a hospital if it was established before 8/1/2022, but is currently receiving regular feeds from that hospital after 8/1/2022?

Yes, if the data was received since 8/1/2022. 

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

How does HRSA define the term routine support?

Routine support refers to PHCs making existing resources, such as on-demand reference materials and regular communicated tips or best practices, available to staff to guide their ability to use digital health tools. Routine support would exclude formal training.

(Added: 2/7/2023)

Publication plan versus communication plan

What is the difference between a Publication Plan and Communication Plan?

The publication plan is part of the cooperative agreement recipient’s post-award responsibilities and is not required as part of your progress report submission. The plan should include each publication’s purpose, target audience, title, publication mode or type, summary description, expected impact/benefit, and projected publication draft date. Contact your project officer for more detailed instructions regarding content and submission of the publication plan.

The communication plan was a required submission component of your FY 2022 application, and outlined how you intended to maintain ongoing communication with PHCs in your network. An update to the Communication Plan should be included with the progress report if any changes have been made since your last submission.

(Updated: 2/12/2024)

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