"For many of these small hospitals that are looking to connect their hospital with a clinic, we deliver that master patient index functionality using NeHII, so they don't have to go out and buy that as well when they're already spending money for EMRs," Bass says.
Now, Bass is coming up with timeline for when each of the hospitals will get connected, since they're in different stages of readiness. Bass says one hospital is still in the process of implementing an EMR, while others have had them for years.
"We're working on figuring out who's most ready, so they will go first," Bass says.
One of the 14 CAHs that's among the most ready is Antelope Memorial Hospital, a 25-bed hospital in Neligh, Nebraska. Administrator Jack Green says his hospital is close to achieving stage one meaningful use. He believes that connectivity makes sense for healthcare.
"You can go to Europe and you can go up to an ATM and get money out of your bank account," he tells HealthLeaders. "But you can't go five miles from here and get information on yourself. I think that's the good thing about it."
He acknowledges, however, that no matter how much connectivity will improve patient care, some facilities just won't be able to participate because of a lack of resources, "whether it be manpower, whether it be money. You get some very small critical access hospitals and they just don't have the money."