NORC at the University of Chicago (NORC) is pleased to present this Final Report for Community Health Center Information Systems Assessment: Issues and Opportunities to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The project applies qualitative methods to describe the use of information technology (IT) among ambulatory health care providers funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (hereinafter “health centers”) and health center networks around the nation. NORC conducted this project under contract with ASPE; HRSA and BPHC worked in conjunction with ASPE to guide activities under the project. In this report, we refer both to health centers’ use of IT generally, and, as a subset of IT, to those applications which directly may improve the safety, quality, efficiency and effectiveness of health care delivery, known as health IT.
This report represents a synthesis of several prior deliverables, including an environmental scan and seven interim reports detailing findings from case studies. Overall, we report on findings from discussions with over 120 respondents from health centers (38 total, several with multiple sites), health center networks, public health agencies, associations, foundations and other relevant stakeholders, shedding light on the experiences of health centers and health center networks at various stages of implementing IT programs. We also describe important challenges to the development and long term sustainability of health center network arrangements as well as the obstacles health centers face when initiating IT projects alone or in collaboration with other providers.