EHR and Rural Healthcare Providers

Posted on July 12, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Guest Post: Diane Matthews, MHA, is a the CEO of Laser Logics and Suitemed Solutions.  Laser Logics focuses on providing comprehensive IT services to healthcare.  SuiteMed Solutions helps doctors looking for comprehensive EHR Solutions.

Rural healthcare providers seem to be facing more obsticles with the following issues regarding EHR: cost, functionality to cost, effective training, implementation, support, IT hardware backend.

Strengthening the rural areas with technology advances in healthcare increases positive healthcare outcomes and reduces associated costly risks attributable to chronic diseases. I have lived in rural farm country side nearly all my life and I see the struggles of these rural healthcare providers. But, I also see the impact of lack of healthcare to children and elderly persons who simply have no means to travel 90 miles round trip for a doctor’s appointment. This is a crisis!

If we do not empower our rural healthcare providers with usable beneficial technology that is cost advantageous, then combined with reduced healthcare reimbursements and higher out of pocket costs that most rural families simply cannot afford, we are going to be losing our rural healthcare providers simply because they can afford to keep the doors open.

Cost is a huge factor. But a good healthcare EHR consultant not only focuses on the EHR software itself it is showing healthcare providers a wealth of avenues that can be effectively leveraged together to bring those implementation costs significantly down. Depending upon the healthcare facility this could be Section 179, American Disabilities Act, Green Tax Incentives, Federal 340B programs – it isn’t just one stimulus program – it is leveraging them all collectively and effectively together to yield the most advantageous outcome for the rural healthcare provider.

Something else I am seeing is a lot of rural healthcare providers are going with brand well known names in commercial EHR.  However, once the check is written the interest and commitment to the rural healthcare providers dwindles to non-existent. Then, what has happened is money that couldn’t afford to be thrown away in essence has possibly leaving no room to try again.

Rural healthcare providers need to invest their research into not EHR vendors but EHR consultants who look at the bigger picture of the healthcare entity and the community at large with focus on their unique needs. Organize group on-site training to reduce costs. An outstanding EHR consultant is going to view this as an opportunity to bring cutting technology to the hands of those who might not otherwise have an opportunity to receive it. Done right, while the EHR consultant may not have a high profit margin, the payoff will be seen with positive referrals from happy rural health entities, development of long term professional relationships, and being a responsible source in narrowing the gap in rural America between technology and healthcare.

What specific challenges do rural healthcare providers face with EHR?

What proposed resolutions to these challenges can be had to reduce EHR barriers for the rural healthcare providers?