Sally Buck, associate director of the National Rural Health Resource Center, says only about 70% of rural healthcare providers are now being served by the regional extension centers that are funded by the Office of the National Coordinator. Some of the remaining 30% of rural providers are fending for themselves. "It is taking longer for critical access hospitals and rural providers," she says.
Sande says the Rural Assistance Center and the federal government want to hear from providers who use the tool kit, which is now considered a pilot project. "We really want feedback to see if this resource is helpful to people and what would be useful to be added to the Web site tool kit to make it even better to meet the needs of rural providers," she says.
While providing a tool kit for rural providers likely will not solve the lagging attestation rates for meaningful use, it is at least an acknowledgement from the federal government that rural providers face unique challenges implementing EHRs. In that respect, this is an important step.