Healthcare IT funding made available for critical access hospitals

As part of an initiative to increase the quality of care in critical access hospitals (CAHs), the Obama Administration will provide more than 1,300 healthcare facilities with additional funding to ensure that healthcare IT infrastructure can be improved to provide patients with higher quality care, according to Information Week.

Despite limited access to healthcare IT professionals and resources, many rural CAHs are expected to meet the same criteria for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) meaningful use incentives. Dr. Karen Joynt, author of a report detailing the disparity between levels of medical informatics adoption at CAHs, told Information Week she approved of the initiative.

“Certainly more money and more resources and being able to get access to the technology is a tremendous start because CAHs have a completely different and more challenging set of circumstances,” Joynt told the news outlet. “A lot of these hospitals face greater challenges than other hospitals in trying to recruit the people that they need to get these systems up and running and to maintain them.”

Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary for the White House, announced that job creation and improving access to healthcare IT for rural hospitals were priorities for the Obama Administration. Federal funding will be made available for healthcare facilities in rural areas to purchase medical informatics systems if such networks are not already in place. Recruitment of additional physicians for CAHs is also a priority of the initiative.

Joynt’s report, titled Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes in Critical Access Rural Hospitals, indicated that hospitals in rural areas were lacking in the adoption of clinical informatics systems, compared to healthcare facilities in urban or more densely populated areas. According to the report, 6.5 percent of rural CAHs had implemented a basic medical informatics network in comparison to 13.9 percent of hospitals in more populous areas.

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