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Senators: Rural Hospitals Hobbled by Digital Divide

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 17, 2013

"They have already expressed great concerns about Stage 2. I am of the view that [Office of the National Coordinator] and [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] ought to develop a way for rural hospitals to achieve Stage 2 while allowing more advanced healthcare systems and providers to move on to Stage 3 if they are ready. The question would be will you commit to giving rural providers more time to achieve Stage 2?"  

Mostashari replied that federal officials "have been quite open to dialog with the rural community and how we can help them achieve success and not necessarily accept that they are necessarily going to be further behind."

While challenges remain, Mostashari says that rural providers have made tremendous progress in adopting electronic health records. In fact, Mostashari says he is so confident in the advances that smaller hospitals are making, that deadlines have been moved up, not back.

"We set a goal of getting 1,000 critical access hospitals to meaningful use by 2014. We are going to revise that goal to get 1,000 critical access hospitals to meaningful use by the end of this year," Mostashari says.  

"We think we are making good progress with those hospitals through the technical assistance and coordination that is possible. So, we are open to dialog. But I would much rather see the rural hospitals be able to keep up rather than me acknowledge that they are going to fall behind."  

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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.