Low-Resource, Rural Providers Lack Needed Tools for Meaningful Use

January 28, 2015 in News

Low-resource and rural providers could have trouble sustaining the meaningful use of electronic health records, according to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, Health Data Management reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Details of Study

The study was conducted by researchers from the:

  • Altarum Institute, a Michigan-based research group;
  • State University of New York at Albany; and
  • University of Alberta (Goth, Health Data Management, 1/26).

The researchers examined federally qualified health centers and priority practices in Michigan (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 1/26).

Findings

Overall, the study found that providers with low resources and those in rural areas likely cannot sustain meaningful use of EHRs beyond implementation because they lack:

  • Financial resources;
  • Leverage with vendors; and
  • Technical expertise (Health Data Management, 1/26).

In addition, the study found that rural providers in particular face certain challenges that are unique to their locations. For example, such providers often:

  • Do not have security, software and training consultations available to them; and
  • Lack reliable Internet connections.

The researchers said that continued support from the regional extension center program or additional federal support could help low-resource providers (EHR Intelligence, 1/26). The report noted, “Absent that, the multifaceted challenge of health IT maintenance will almost inevitably overwhelm low-resource practices.”

The researchers added, “The advances in clinical processes expected for Stage 2 and Stage 3 meaningful use will strain both the technological expertise and management expertise of low-resource practices” (Health Data Management, 1/26).

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