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Senators: Rural Hospitals Hobbled by Digital Divide

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 17, 2013

Members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee suggest that Farzad Mostashari, MD, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, has little or no idea of the challenges rural healthcare providers face as they grapple with Meaningful Use requirements.

With all of the fighting, delays, and splashy headlines surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the evolving status of meaningful use and the adoption of electronic health records often take a back seat.

Yet, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 and the $33 billion that came with it are leading and funding the development of the complex HIT infrastructure that will make possible key components of PPACA.  

There are rumblings, however, that rural providers are falling behind with HITECH implementation. For example, only one-third of rural hospitals have electronic medical records systems, compared with half of all urban hospitals.  

Members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Wednesday sought answers on the status of meaningful use in rural America from Farzad Mostashari, MD, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "I'm concerned about the digital divide may only get larger as rural hospitals are expected to take the leap into the more rigorous requirements of [Meaningful Use] Stage 2," Sen. John Thune, (R-SD), told Mostashari during the hearing.

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4 comments on "Senators: Rural Hospitals Hobbled by Digital Divide"


David Hold (7/19/2013 at 2:31 PM)
Senators are right on target I presume that the EMR vendors are very happy to listen to the good doctors comments. We are focusing on EMR which is important but not as important as preventive care. Most of these rural hospitals are barley breaking even or losing money to provide needed care and what we do add to their burden

KG (7/18/2013 at 11:15 AM)
I think there is increasing lack of civility and focus on issues/solutions in the senate hearings. What does Dr. Mostashari's bow tie have to do with a discussion on problems faced by rural providers? I would have much preferred the senators to focus on specifics and details of the problems faced by rural providers to back up their claims and discuss possible solutions.

Larry Rine (7/18/2013 at 10:23 AM)
I only have antidotal data, but from calling on these hospitals an EHR vendor for several years, there are very few rural hospitals in Kansas, Montana and other states that haven't made an EHR [INVALID]ion. It is important to note that the process from installation to attestation takes almost a year. Stage Two requirements are not that much more challenging than Stage One. The personal criticism of Dr. Mostashari, was classless.