Publicly Funded Family Planning Agencies and Health Information Technology

In Health Information Technology and Publicly Funded Family Planning Agencies: Readiness, Use and Challenges, published by The Guttmacher Institute, authors Jennifer J. Frost, et al, sought to provide policymakers and program planners with the information needed to assist publicly funded family planning centers in making the leap forward in Health Information Technology (HIT) use.  To this end, the authors conducted an assessment and gap analysis of the current HIT capabilities and anticipated barriers among a nationally representative sample of publicly funded family planning agencies.

Publicly funded family planning centers are an integral component in providing sexual and reproductive health services to low-income women and men each year.  They allow women and couples to avoid unintended pregnancies, plan the timing of wanted pregnancies, and receive a range of preventive health services, treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and referrals for other needed care.  For many women, visits to publicly funded family planning providers are the only regular health care they receive.

In late 2010 and early 2011, researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of agencies providing publicly funded contraceptive services; 461 agencies responded to this survey, for a total response rate of 52%.  Then, in May 2011, researchers contacted 20 agencies that had provided notable responses to the questionnaire’s open-ended questions.  Representatives from 10 of the 20 agencies agreed to follow-up interviews which were conducted to expand upon the agencies’ closed- and open-ended responses which resulted in a thorough understanding of agency HIT utilization.

Results indicated that the top three barriers to successfully adopting and utilizing HIT are financial: implementation costs (cited by 67% of agencies), ongoing costs (62%) and acquisition costs (58%).  Other common challenges include identifying or building an appropriate EHR system (37%) and obtaining necessary IT support and expertise (34%).  Health departments are the most likely to report that many aspects of HIT implementation were problematic, and FQHCs are the least likely to report such challenges.

One Response to Publicly Funded Family Planning Agencies and Health Information Technology

  1. We continue to spend more money on teaching young people about contraception, pregnancy STD and such, yet teen pregnancy is at on all time high? What are we missing?

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