Federal Flex Updates: June 2016

June 2016

Happy June and welcome to summer! I hope you had a chance to enjoy the summer solstice Strawberry Moon

Monday (June 27) the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) welcomed a new member of the Flex Team. Owmy Bouloute comes to FORHP from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rosenfield Global Health fellowship in Mozambique. He has a master’s degree in public health and a doctorate in podiatric medicine. Christy Edwards and Yvonne Chow have done a great job supporting extra grantees since Kevin Chaney left, but we are all glad to return to a full complement of four Flex project officers.  

As you saw from the mailing list on Tuesday, the June MBQIP Monthly has a great story about Petersburg Medical Center in Alaska. The dedicated team in Petersburg successfully reports all of the MBQIP measures, including HCAHPS, with an average census of less than one patient per day. Great job Petersburg! This story is a wonderful example of the value of the work you all do to help rural hospitals and communities.   

A couple of reminders based on things we’ve seen in your progress reports: 

  • OP-4 and OP-18 are required MBQIP measures in the new grant year. As Robyn Carlson from Rural Quality Improvement Technical Assistance (RQITA) explained in the March MBQIP Monthly, OP-4 and OP-18 must be reported or the QualityNet warehouse will reject other outpatient data. Be sure you are including OP-4 and OP-18 in your work plans and contracts for the upcoming grant year. Any questions about the data submission process? Contact tasc@ruralcenter.org 
  • Data, data, data… As you know all of us - hospitals, rural projects, state offices and federal grant programs - face increasing expectations to show our value. For you as state Flex Coordinators this means a focus on reporting data for the project measures that you selected in your grant applications. I realize collecting and reporting data is not easy and it’s never perfect. As project officers we will work with you to help you report your data. You have two opportunities every year to report data that reflects the accomplishments of your state Flex Program: the progress report (NCC) and the Performance Improvement Measurement System (PIMS) data report. We want your progress reports to meet this expectation to report data, that’s why we often ask you to make changes. The progress report is very individual, highlighting your work in your state, while the PIMS data (which will be reported in September and October) provides aggregate measures for the national Flex Program. I’m working with our IT contractors to reformat PIMS to reflect the update to national Flex measures. More to come on that effort this summer.  

I was lucky to join the Region A Partnership Meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I really enjoyed hearing more about the work of State Offices of Rural Health (SORHs) and how some of you are using multiple approaches to work with rural hospitals and rural communities. One challenge we discussed at the meeting that probably resonates for many of you is helping rural hospital leaders and rural communities to understand how the US health care system is changing. That’s a huge topic without an easy answer! Rural Health Value is one resource that FORHP supports to help you and your rural stakeholders understand and navigate these changes. Many of TASC’s products and other tools from the Center can also help you help people in your states. 

Do you use the HRSA Grants website? The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Federal Assistance Management (OFAM) oversees grant activities and award processing and maintains this section of the website to provide information for grantees. The Grants section has links to new funding opportunities across HRSA and to the Grants Forecast to help you predict upcoming announcements that may be of interest to your partners and stakeholders. The website also has tools to manage your grant including the EHB Knowledge Base with Electronic Handbook (EHB) tutorials and help topics. 

We are looking forward to seeing you all here in Rockville for the Reverse Site Visit on July 20 and 21. Let me know what questions you’ve got about the Flex Program and I’ll do my best to address them. 

Sarah Young

Flex Program Coordinator

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,009,121 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.