How MU is Working for Hospitals in Rural Areas

You can take the man out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the man” origin unknown

So, how is Meaningful Use working for the hospitals in the country/rural areas these days opposed to their city/urban counterparts?

Leila Samy, The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information (ONC’s) rural health IT coordinator, says her mandate is to “make sure that rural communities and rural healthcare providers aren’t left behind in the push to leverage technology in healthcare.”

“These rural safety net hospitals are anchor institutions. They are often the largest or second largest employers in their communities. Health IT in these rural communities is really a tremendous opportunity to fuel economic development.”

Biggest hurdles that stand in the way of rural IT adoption:

  • Lack of resources available
  • Funding
  • Different needs than their larger urban counterparts

Michael Archlueta, the director of IT of Mt. San Rafael Hospital, a 25 bed critical-access hospital in Trinidad, Colo. a community of about 9,000 people in rural Colorado, says it’s “extremely difficult” to recruit individuals that have the required health IT background. He serves as the individual responsible for a never-ending list of responsibilities, which would normally be dispersed unto many individuals in a larger IT department.” “At times, I’ve faced difficulty in regards to having limited resources made available to me.” “The challenge has been the tremendous work-load that I’m juggling and expectations that I’m continuously striving but successfully overcoming all obstacles.”

“And that’s not the only challenge rural hospitals face. Implementing an electronic health record system isn’t very affordable, and the pressure is on for rural hospitals to turn the increasingly large sums they have spent into a worthwhile investment that will eventually improve quality, safety and efficiencies; reduce health disparities; engage patients and their families; and improve care coordination and population and public health, all while maintaining the privacy and security of patient health information,” Mr. Archuleta says.

“I really think that a different set of guidelines and expectations should be implemented to better suit our smaller, rural critical-access hospitals,” Mr. Archuleta says. “What needs to be understood is that not all hospitals operate similarly and that funding can often times be limited. If the government guidelines could be specifically written in a manner which would allow different timeline expectations in regards to the hospital size and demographic location, it would allow smaller, critical-access hospitals to prepare for the required funding ahead of time by being able to include it within their budget. This alone would lift the financial strain that these implementations often times generate.”

MMY Consultants are aware of the various needs you are facing; see if we can help you in any way.