HRSA to study rural EHR, health IT adoption

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has submitted its information collection request on the Rural Health Information Technology Network Development Program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for public comment and final approval. 

The purpose of the network development program is to improve healthcare and support the adoption of electronic health records and other health IT in rural America by providing targeted support to rural health networks. Health IT plays a "significant role" in some of HHS' priorities in improving health, such as enhanced care coordination, patient engagement in their own care and reduction of health disparities.

According to the request, published last week in the Federal Register, HRAA seeks the authority to collect performance measures to provide data useful to the program, as required by Congress. The measures include: (a) access to care; (b) the underinsured and uninsured; (c) workforce recruitment and retention; (d) sustainability; (e) health information technology; (f) network development; and (g) health related clinical measures. 

The first public review of the request was published in the Federal Register on March 7, but no public comments were received. Comments on the request submitted to OMB are due by June 23.

Rural providers historically have encountered barriers in the EHR adoption process, including lack of broadband, the distances between providers, and the lack of availability of technical assistance. Some rural hospitals still rely on paper records. 

To learn more:
- read the Federal Register notice