Rural Hospitals: Small But Mighty With Best Health Information Exchange
It’s not written anywhere that because you are a small, rural, critical care hospital that you can only have access to subpar technology. However, due to resource hurdles, which include a lack of human resources as well as a lack of funding, you probably are paired up with technology that doesn’t quite fit the needs of your patients.
The country is dotted with rural hospitals that provide vital services to residents in their region, but few have the best health information exchange. Without these hospitals, rural communities wouldn’t have access to clinics and/or skilled nursing facilities. It’s obvious that these practitioners are providing much needed services, but it’s also obvious that they could be doing a better job with health IT systems and capabilities that are more in line with what’s available today.
Unfortunately, many of these rural facilities are faced with challenges as they attempt to comply with electronic health record technology regulations. In fact, nearly 30 percent of critical access hospitals have a system for their health records that rely on paper as well as electronic processes. According to a study published by Data Brief, around 15 percent of these rural facilities said they were capable of reporting patient engagement, which means a majority of patients who seek care at these facilities aren’t able to view, download or transmit their medical data.
The same study reports that facilities with access to high-speed Internet are more likely to have the ability to give patients viewing, downloading and transmission access. These are also facilities most likely to get involved in the best health information exchange.
What every rural facility, especially those with radiology departments, are working to comply with right now is Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, which states that patients must have electronic access to their radiology report within 24 hours of the examination. This is causing some stress within rural healthcare facilities that are already behind on Stage 1 compliance issues. However, there are some low-cost options available to these medical professionals that don’t require extra hardware, software or technicians to make Meaningful Use compliance a reality.
Being included in the best health information exchange does not require your facility to be among the biggest providers in your area. In fact, rural exchanges are popping up in places with a multitude of rural facilities like Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Louisiana. They are taking advantage of the cloud-based solutions that vendors can utilize for low-cost, yet quality solutions that rural providers need. For example, Missouri’s health image exchange has eased the fears of providers who worry that their PACS will not be able to support their operations for years to come.
The technology involved in the best health information exchange setups is offered by OffSite Image Management, Inc., a company that has its eye on the rural providers. At OffSite, we’ve created solutions that leverage the power of the cloud to provide access to critical information from facilities using disparate systems. Contact us today to learn more about our exchanges.