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Rural Hospitals and IT Challenges: Causes and Solutions

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Rural Hospitals and IT Challenges: Causes and Solutions

ruralRural hospitals and IT problems:  it’s not a new problem. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) addressed a strategy for enhancements to the way care is delivered across the health information exchange, with particular implications for rural hospitals.

National adoption and implementation of electronic health records is the central focus of ARRA, which prompted new financial benefits and incentives for clinics or hospitals who made these information management upgrades – dubbed “meaningful use.”

However, rural hospitals and smaller clinics were (and remain) faced with distinct challenges when it comes to electronic health records management. Why?

1. Many rural hospitals are working within an infrastructure that makes implementation of meaningful use toward EHR more time consuming and expensive.
2. Similarly, many smaller hospitals have less access to the kinds of capital and levels of capital needed to implement advanced health records management – despite the financial incentives available for the implementation.
3. Some implementation strategies can require a significant time and knowledge investment on the part of hospital administrators and staff, making the process even more challenging – especially if hospitals in rural areas are already working with limited staff availability.

What are solutions to these challenges? Many hospitals who have successfully implemented an offsite data management strategy on a vendor neutral platform, for example, have done so because they work with an experienced team who can literally walk them through the process. Customer service is essential in the process of adopting new technology toward hospital data storage and management – especially since delays in service can be very costly in terms of patient care.

Additionally, rural hospitals who have been successful at implementing better health information exchange platforms have been motivated by serving their patients at a higher level of quality, realizing the impact their services have. One report says that there are more than 2,100 small hospitals (capacity of less than 50 beds) that serve around 50 million rural individuals in the U.S. Additionally, those 50 million individuals are part of the group of at least 62 million Americans deemed underserved when it comes  to healthcare at the primary care level.

Better IT knowledge and application in rural areas means clinics and hospitals can change the way they gather, administer, share and utilize patient images and health records for better patient outcomes and healthier lives. That’s certainly worth any application challenges, especially since those can be addressed by experts like Offsite Image Management – the industry leaders in vendor neutral archiving for rural hospital radiological images, data storage and PACS, among other services. Contact Offsite today.

Originally posted 2013-08-14 14:46:08.

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