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  5. FY 2022 HCCN Frequently Asked Questions

FY 2022 HCCN Frequently Asked Questions

Funding

What is the purpose of the one-time funding supplement of $40,817?

HRSA added a one-time $40,817 funding supplement to FY 2022 HCCN awards to further support health centers with leveraging health information technology (health IT) and data to deliver high-quality, culturally competent, equitable, and comprehensive primary health care, with a specific focus on improvements in clinical quality, patient-centered care, and provider and staff well-being. This funding may be used to support training and technical assistance (T/TA) on Uniform Data System (UDS) modernization efforts, also known as UDS+, for participating health centers (PHCs) in your networks. In addition, this funding may be used on specific T/TA activities that support Objective 4: Disaggregated, patient-level data, or other UDS+ activities. Review the UDS Modernization Initiative and UDS Resources webpages for more information.

(Added: 08/22/2022)

How will the funding mechanism change from a grant to cooperative agreement impact how I use HCCN funds?  

The change in funding mechanism will allow more flexibility in how HCCN funds are used. With input and agreement from HRSA, you will be able to make changes to your Project Work Plan activities and budget allocations more easily during the budget period, to respond to emerging national priorities and/or your PHCs’ needs. As a cooperative agreement, there will be substantial involvement from HRSA/BPHC and HCCN awardees to further maximize the effectiveness and impact of HCCN awards. For instance, HRSA may add new objectives throughout the period of performance in order to better respond to emerging national priorities.

Many features of the U86 cooperative agreement, such as the annual non-competing continuation progress report, are similar to the FY 2019 H2Q grant. However, as a cooperative agreement, you will use the Project Work Plan modification process within the EHBs to update your project work plan during the year.

(Added: 11/30/2021)

Per the FY 2022 HCCN NOFO, HCCN funding may not be utilized to purchase equipment or supplies for use at the individual health center level or any other individual health center operational costs. What kinds of equipment and supplies may be allowable for HCCNs to purchase for PHCs?

HCCN funding may be utilized for equipment or supplies that directly support achieving the FY 2022 HCCN objectives. Equipment and supplies must be available to all PHCs in an HCCN. You must 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
  • Supports PHCs with translating robust clinical and population data into quality improvement and culturally competent, patient-centered care using, in part, data collected through digital health tools.

If for example, you identify a significant need across your network for specific data collection and reporting software to support data standardization and integration then made this available to all your PHCs, this may be an allowable cost.

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

(Added: 11/30/2021)

Will the executive salary cap be applied to FY 2022 HCCN funding?

Yes, the executive salary cap will be applied to FY 2022 HCCN funding and subsequent fiscal years of the period of performance. HCCN funds may not be used to pay the salary of an individual at a rate in excess of Federal Executive Level II of the Federal Executive Pay scale, which is $199,300 as of January 2021. This amount may change so you should verify each year you submit your budget.

(Added: 11/30/2021)

My HCCN has had turnover in key staffing (e.g., quality improvement and data analytics staff), can we contract for key technical skills and consulting from external subject experts?

Yes, you may engage external subject experts and consultants through contracts. You will provide information about contracted staff in your project narrative, budget narrative, and Attachment 7: Summary of Contracts and Agreements.

(Added: 2/8/2022)

Participating Health Centers

How do HCCNs benefit their PHC?

With FY 2022 funding, HCCNs will support PHCs with health IT and data needs with a specific focus on improvements in clinical quality, patient-centered care, and provider and staff well-being. HCCNs will support their PHCs 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. HCCNs are able to 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. In addition, HCCNs will assist health centers with implementing the transition to UDS+ for the 2023 UDS cycle. 

(Added: 2/8/2022)

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

Primarily, a PHC should commit to work with the HCCN for the entire three-year period of performance, to address each objective, and provide annual data. If a PHC has already met an objective measure requirement, 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 their HCCN to develop a beneficial and productive individual work plan so they can receive health IT and data support specific to their needs.

(Added: 2/8/2022)

Do PHCs in my HCCN need to be within a certain geographic location?

No. Unlike State and Regional Primary Care Associations (PCAs), PHCs can be part of an HCCN that is located in a different state or region.

(Added: 2/8/2022)

Objective 1

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; these may include, but are not limited to, electronic messages sent through patient portals to providers, telehealth visits, and reporting remote monitoring device data. As long as 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.

(Added: 1/4/2022)

What patients should be included when calculating the baseline for this objective?

To calculate the objective numerator (i.e., number of PHCs), HCCNs must determine if the PHC has achieved the 80% threshold of patients who have used integrated digital health tools at least once during the calendar year. The universe of patients is those who have had at least one in-person visit at the PHC during calendar year 2021.

(Added: 1/4/2022)

Objective 2

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 Electronic Health Record (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: 1/4/2022)

Objective 4

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 to send mock or real eCQM reports or data consistent with UDS+ reporting to the upcoming UDS+ FHIR "sandbox" endpoint OR during other tests such as HL7 FHIR Connectathons in support of data exchange activities that 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 will be updated to include UDS+ systems requirements. Information about the UDS+ FHIR endpoint sandbox will be made available in 2022. The FHIR-based reporting system will be based on MedMorph and DEQM reference architecture and report content.

(Added: 1/4/2022)

Objective 5

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 such as test results or drug monitoring program information 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.

(Added: 1/4/2022)

Objective 6

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, predictive analytics with data visualization, natural language processing, and machine learning are common but not the only advanced data strategies that will count towards the meeting objective measure requirement.

(Added: 1/4/2022)

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