Key Points

• The types of health information technology (HIT) that are most widely used by publicly funded family planning agencies are those that accomplish agency management tasks, most commonly third-party billing (75%). Only about half of agencies report current use of electronic health records (EHRs) for electronic entry of clinical notes (49%), and far fewer agencies provide patients with online access to scheduling (21%) or medical records (12%).

• Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) report the highest current use of HIT when compared with other types of family planning agencies. Planned Parenthood affiliates and other agencies (including hospital-based agencies) fall somewhat below FQHCs, and health department agencies report comparatively little current use of HIT.

• Most agencies report that they are prepared for HIT implementation in terms of having internet connectivity (73%) and the necessary IT infrastructure and support (57–59%). Fewer than half report being prepared in terms of their staff’s IT experience and literacy and their capacity to conduct necessary staff training (39–47%). FQHCs report being the most prepared to implement HIT systems and health departments are the least prepared.

• 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.

• Large proportions of agencies report a need for five different types of technical assistance: training (68%), conversion from paper to electronic records (58%), implementation and project management (57%), customization to ensure patient confidentiality (55%) and readiness assessment and project planning (52%).

• More than three-quarters of agencies report that some or all of their service delivery sites bill at least 30% of client encounters to Medicaid, indicating that they would have clinicians eligible for a Medicaid program that provides incentive payments for adopting and using EHRs.