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Q&A: HIT's Critical Role in Rural Hospital of the Future

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, August 9, 2011

We’re doing this both by advocating for regulations that take rural-specific circumstances and challenges into account and also by developing tools and resources to help all rural hospitals achieve meaningful use.

As part of the above work, RWHC’s QI program has just received ONC ATCB certification for meaningful use. It’s now one of only a handful of “modular” products nationwide that meets the QI submission requirements. The point is that we are focusing heavily on the intersection between information technology and quality, something that will be critical to all providers’ future success.

GS: And how can rural hospitals across the nation help themselves prepare for the future—especially in terms of government regulations, such as meaningful use?

The long-term strategy for rural hospitals must include becoming much more active as advocates for the people they serve–to assure that major federal policy initiatives have been thoroughly vetted for their potential impact on rural communities. In particular, CMS leadership and rural health leaders need to sit down and discuss how we can work more collaboratively in pursuit of many common goals. 

We need to address the engrained attitudes on both sides that appear to have fueled too many initiatives from the current and prior Administration. Too many proposed regulations or comments have been seen as outright attacks on the very existence of small rural hospitals.

Do you think it's possible for small hospitals to remain independent in the long run? Or is it inevitable that the for-profits and large systems will take over?

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