It's no secret that, in general, rural healthcare providers lag behind their counterparts in urban and non-rural areas when it comes to the implementation of electronic medical records and other healthcare information technology.
The Office of the National Coordinator recently announced that only 9% of critical access hospitals had attested to meaningful use of EHR in 2011, compared with 16% of hospitals in non-rural settings. Frankly, neither statistic is worth bragging about. But the lagging achievement in critical-access hospitals points to some unique challenges that rural healthcare providers face.
Those challenges include a lack of access to capital funding, finding qualified staff and training, finding project partners, and surmounting the byzantine federal bureaucracy.
With that in mind, the Rural Assistance Center and the National Rural Health Resource Center have launched an online HIT toolkit for rural healthcare providers.
"It's freely available. All you have to do is go on line. The kit was designed to help rural providers navigate the federal resources that are available," Kristine Sande, program director at the Rural Assistance Center, told HealthLeaders Media.