January 21, 2004
It is a pleasure to be here today to witness firsthand the wonderful work you do everyday.
I also bring greetings from HRSA Administrator Betty Duke who is so impressed by all that you have accomplished here in Miami.
It is important to also recognize the dedication and commitment of Betsey Cooke and her staff at Health Choice Network and the many other partners who have worked tirelessly to get this Integrated Information and Communication Technology Project moving forward.
For those of you who don’t know us, I want to tell you just a bit about my agency – the Health Resources and Services Administration --
and why what you are doing here means so much to the achievement of our overall mission.
HRSA’s programs reach into every corner of America, providing a solid safety net of health care services relied on by many of the Nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
HRSA grantees deliver preventive and primary health care to underserved individuals and families in inner cities and in remote rural communities.
We administer programs like the Ryan White Care Act that give low-income people with HIV/AIDS the medication and care they need to get better or stay well.
We work with states to ensure that babies are born healthy and that pregnant women and their children have access to health care.
We help train physicians, nurses and other health care providers and place them in communities where their services are desperately needed.
And we oversee the Nation’s organ transplantation and bone marrow donation systems.
As you can see, our mission is a very compelling one -- to provide access to essential health care services so Americans can lead healthier, more productive lives.
Much of this access is provided by HRSA-supported health centers in communities all across the Nation. This network includes community and migrant health centers, homeless centers and centers in public housing and schools.
In fact, these very sites are the front line of the Bush Administration’s push to increase direct health care services for all Americans.
President Bush has made expansion of the health center network a top priority.
Early in his first year in office, the President launched a five-year initiative to add 1,200 new and expanded health center sites to the current network and increase the number of people served annually from just over 10 million in 2001 to 16 million by 2006.
So far the President’s expansion plan is proceeding ahead of schedule.
In 2003, HRSA created 100 new centers and expanded the medical capacity at more than 150 existing centers.
HRSA now supports nearly 3,600 health care service sites, which served an estimated 12.5 million patients in 2003.
It is critical to this expansion that we also work to strengthen existing health centers and maintain the high quality for which our health centers are known.
This is why what you are doing here in Miami is so important. Millions of Americans rely on health centers to meet many of their primary care needs, including mental and oral health services. The ICT project makes it possible for health centers to refocus their efforts and resources into providing quality care. And ICT also makes it possible to increase clinical services while working to keep costs down. The end result is that service and quality improve at the same time that patient access improves – a win-win for everybody involved.
At HRSA, we take great pride in supporting this and other ICT projects. Why?
Because we believe they present an unparalleled opportunity to share information and resources, increasing both knowledge and the potential for networking among all our partners.
To show our commitment to innovation in communications and technology, last October we announced 36 grants totaling $10 million to support the creation, further development, and operation of health center networks and integrated information systems.
These grants are catalysts for the planning and implementation of integrated systems among health centers. Among these grants were six Integrated Communications and Technology projects totaling $4.2 million.
These funds support health center participation in the development of a technology infrastructure that integrates uniform clinical information with business systems and care management.
For all of us the future is clear. The power and potential of technology is expanding in ways many of us never imagined. Our challenge is to keep pace and take full advantage of all the technological advances available to us. You can be sure that the model you are creating here in Miami will be replicated by many others in the health center system.
At HRSA, we are proud to be your partners and wish you every future success.