HIE grants offered to rural Arkansas hospitals

Rural hospitals in Arkansas are eligible for awards up to $10,000 to help with the cost of connecting to the statewide health information exchange known as SHARE (State Health Alliance for Records Exchange).

The Delta Regional Authority will contribute $125,320 to aid 12 facilities designated as eligible Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) or Small Rural Hospitals (SRHs) serving 11 Delta counties: Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Clay, Dallas Desha, Drew, Fulton, Izard and Randolph. In addition, the Arkansas Office of Health Information Technology  has committed $70,000 to support seven eligible hospitals outside the Delta region.

"These small hospital systems are a critical part of the Arkansas health care network. Having them connect to SHARE will give them access to more complete health information about their patients, and improve their ability to coordinate their patients' care with other providers," Office of Health Information Technology Director Ray Scott is quoted in an announcement.

These hospitals already have digitized their record systems, but may not be able to efficiently share information with larger hospitals and other providers.

Some experts say rural healthcare is under assault, especially after a report from the U.S Department of Health & Human Services' Office of the Inspector General (OIG) urging recertification for the CAH program. Under its guidelines, almost two-thirds of CAHs, which serve rural communities, would not meet these requirements and would lose the special reimbursement for Medicare services. The American Hospital Association criticized the HHS report for showing "an unfortunate lack of understanding of how healthcare is delivered in rural America," FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Jerry Seelig, a federal court-appointed patient care ombudsman for three rural hospitals, argues in a piece at FierceHealthFinance that under the Affordable Care Act, big city hospitals' numbers work only when CAH hospitals provide quality care to many patients and transfer only a handful of critically ill patients. 

To learn more:
- find the announcement