EHR and Rural Healthcare Providers

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?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

3 Comments

  • Diane,

    You could remove the word rural from many of the arguments you make and apply them to selecting an EMR in general. I especially like the role you advocate for the consultant. It’s not enough to find a good solution, but a solution that fits the practice environment and that helps users to carry out their roles effectively and efficiently.

  • Carl,

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

    It’s like a puzzle with each piece representing a critical element that when put together collectively yields a nice result. Yet a missing piece of the puzzle literally can fracture the entire outcome, not to mention the expense of resources.

    I personally am not an advocate of the “free” EHR systems. It is widely documented that patient data is mined and questions of HIPAA compliancy scream. Yet another reason I do not advocate the “free” EHR is because a fixed solution does not fit every practice.

    In order for an EHR to yield positive results is one that conforms to the unique environment of each practice. This method then lends to aiding providers and office staff to work most effectively and efficiently, which should be at the top of the list of desired outcomes.

    Di

  • Di,

    I agree with your first and last points absolutely.

    It’s not, however, that a product is free that has caused me to reject all the free systems I have seen. It’s been their lack of necessary features, such as not incorporating billing or workflow systems.

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