Federal Flex Updates: December 2016

December 2016

Thank you for all the work you do to improve health care in the rural communities of your states. As a grant program, we often focus on our budget year more than the calendar year, but the end of the 2016 calendar is a time to reflect on everything you’ve done, the people you’ve partnered with, and all of the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) data you’ve collected and shared with your critical access hospitals (CAHs).

Here at the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) we’ve had many changes too—Kevin Chaney, our former Flex Program coordinator, left for a new job with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) last spring, I took on the coordinator role: Owmy Bouloute joined us as a new Flex project officer and Flex Monitoring Team (FMT) coordinator; and, we rolled out a completely revised Performance Improvement Measurement System (PIMS) data collection. 

In the coming year, we need to focus on demonstrating outcomes. We are now in the middle of the three-year Flex project period. You’ve done assessments, you’ve identified CAH needs and opportunities, now is the time to focus on making those positive changes happen.

We talk about many examples when we talk about impact, but the bottom line is simple. What changed? What is better because of the work you did? Just like demonstrating high-quality care is critical for CAHs in the new health care environment, so is demonstrating impact for your states and the Flex Program as a whole. I look forward to working with you as we continue to change and improve Flex and document our impact. 

Moving to grant operations, I sent carryover instructions and a carryover template to the Flex email list on November 30 (the same day as last month’s Rural Route newsletter). You can also find a copy of the template and instructions on the Flex Forum. I strongly encourage you to talk to your project officer before preparing a prior approval request for carryover. That will ensure you are both on the same page and may minimize reworking. Remember that you need to include any carryover-funded activities in your future progress reports and next year’s PIMS

Thank you to everyone who shared feedback on your PIMS experience. I am working with the Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) and (FMT) to develop better tools and guidance to make PIMS easier for you to report and improve data accuracy. We will have a PIMS data analysis webinar on January 24, 2017, watch for more information in your email.

Happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year. 

Sarah Young

Flex Program Coordinator