Missouri health centers awarded federal funds

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COLUMBIA - United States Health and Human Services awarded funds to 21 Missouri health centers to continue improving quality health.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced Tuesday that $587,445 will be distributed to Missouri health centers to recognize quality health care achievements and invest in ongoing improvement activities.

"This funding rewards health centers that have a proven track record in clinical quality improvement, which translates better patient care, and it allows them to expand and improve their systems and infrastructure to bring the highest quality primary care service," Burwell said.

The centers received the money for achievements in one or more of the following categories.

Health center quality leaders: Six Missouri health centers received funding in this category for a total of $168,716. Award winners in this category were among the top 30 percent of all health centers that achieved the best overall clinical outcomes. They also must have demonstrated their ability to focus on quality in all aspects of their clinical operations.

• Clinical quality improvers: 19 Missouri health centers received funding in this category for approximately $328,727. To receive this award, health centers must have demonstrated at least a 10 percent improvement in clinical quality measures between 2012 and 2013 and showing a significant improvement in the health of the patients they serve.

Electronic Health Record reporters: Six Missouri health centers received funding in this category for a total of $90,000. Health centers were awarded if they used EHRs to report clinical quality measure data on all of their patients, which is a key transformational step in driving quality improvement for all health center patients across the nation.

Two mid-Missouri health centers were included on this list, one in Columbia and one in Linn, Mo. Family Health Center of Boone County received $14,984 in the clinical quality improvers category, while Community Health Center of Central Missouri in Linn, Mo. received $7,759 also in the same category.

Family Health Center Chief Executive Officer Gloria Crull said to be eligible for these awards health centers have to be federally funded.

"This means that we receive a federal grant to subsidize the discount that we provide to low income uninsured individuals and it also helps us pay for some services that we're required to provide," Crull said.

She said the Family Health Center is excited about the funding it's received in the clinical quality improvers category.

"It means that we have been measuring our performance and that means that we have to have an electronic data system, which can capture how we're performing," Croll said. "They're essentially saying that we are improving in numerous measures."

Crull said the center hasn't made a decision on how to spend the funds.