January 26, 2012 -- A new online toolkit will serve as a pilot program for providing health information technology (HIT) resources to rural health care providers. The toolkit, developed by the Rural Assistance Center (RAC) and the National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center) is designed to help rural providers find resources for HIT, electronic health records (EHR), meaningful use and related topics. Funding for the toolkit, available at http://www.raconline.org/hit/, is provided by the federal Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP).
"HIT is critically important for rural communities and this toolkit is one way to help rural health care providers get projects up and running," explains Kristine Sande, RAC program director. "While rural communities have seen many advances and innovation in using EHRs and HIT networks, they still face a number of challenges."
This toolkit was developed as a result of the President's Rural Health Initiative, which identifies HIT as a priority. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius established the Rural HIT Taskforce to address challenges rural communities face in adopting HIT and achieving meaningful use. The taskforce offers ways to meet those challenges and show rural communities how to coordinate federal resources. The taskforce is co-chaired by HRSA Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield and National Coordinator for HIT Dr. Farzad Mostashari.
Using the toolkit, rural communities will be able to:
- Address challenges in finding capital funding
- Provide support to community colleges to enhance training programs
- Stay informed about legislation affecting EHRs
- Leverage multiple federal resources for project development
Toolkit resources provide guidance in the planning, setup, implementation and operation of an HIT infrastructure. Additional information also shows where to find training programs, funding support and management expertise. Resources are broken down by category and topic for easier access, and can be sorted for more specific results.
Terry Hill, executive director of the National Rural Health Resource Center, emphasizes, "A lot of rural providers need guidance on putting an HIT system in place. This toolkit gives them a starting point and can help them get through the entire implementation process."
For more information
Kristine Sande, RAC Program Director
About the Rural Assistance Center
The Rural Assistance Center (RAC) helps rural communities and agencies learn about programs, funding and research beneficial to rural residents. Located at the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, RAC provides information and technical assistance through its call center and online resource library, www.raconline.org.
About the National Rural Health Resource Center
The Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustaining and improving health care in rural communities by providing technical assistance, information, tools and resources. It also serves as a national rural health knowledge center and strives to build state and local healthcare capacity.