ONC Looks to Accelerate Adoption and Meaningful Use by CAHs

Commits $30 million for RECs to Aid Critical Access Hospitals

In a blog post last week the ONC issued a call to action to see 1,000 Critical Access Hospitals and small, rural hospitals adopt certified EHR technology by the end of 2014. In providing as much as $30 million in funds to the Regional Extension Centers (RECs), these funds are to help the 90% of hospitals covered under the Small Hospital Improvement Program achieve meaningful use.

The authors say the path to meaningful use for CAHs and rural hospitals with less than 50 beds is not easy with the many unique challenges they face. These challenges include:

  • Remote geographic location
  • Small size and low patient volumes
  • Limited workforce
  • Shortage of clinicians
  • Constrained financial resources
  • Lack of adequate, affordable connectivity

Director of the ONC Office of Provider Adoption Support Mat Kendall and ONC’s rural health IT coordinator Leila Samy write:

“We at the ONC would like to see 1,000 Critical Access Hospitals and small, rural hospitals meaningfully using certified EHR technology by the end of 2014.To realize this goal, we need all hands on deck! We need everyone rowing in sync, including leadership and staff in every critical access and rural hospital, EHR vendors, hospital associations and state offices of rural health in every state, Rural Health IT Network Development grantees, ONC grantees, and many more public and private, Federal and local partners.”

The article points out that to date more than 1,200 Critical Access Hospitals and rural hospitals and 5,600 clinicians providing inpatient and outpatient services to these hospitals have enrolled in the REC assistance program. This, the authors say, is anecdotal evidence that these hospitals are committed to achieving meaningful use of certified EHR technology and see the value in health IT to their communities.

Read the full post on HealthIT Buzz.