When planning for the transition to an electronic health record (EHR), the rural health care environment presents unique challenges and opportunities. Rural health care systems often operate on a smaller scale than urban systems, which may make it easier to engage all staff members and providers in the planning process. With fewer providers, though, you might find it challenging to locate EHR implementation team members with the right mix of skills and expertise. Remember, it’s important to make sure your EHR implementation team has a wide array of skills and knowledge.
It’s also important to make sure your organization has high-speed internet access, often referred to as broadband. Some rural organizations have difficulty connecting to or obtaining affordable and reliable broadband service. For more information about getting connected, see the following resources:
- What is broadband and why is broadband access important?
- What if my community does not have access to broadband?
- How can my organization access broadband?
- Rural Health IT Toolbox: Technical Support
Consider Costs, Including Hidden Ones
Rural health care organizations often lack access to capital. When planning your EHR implementation, it is important to remember there may be “hidden” costs, such as staffing and productivity lost to training staff, in addition to the cost of the EHR system. Your local Regional Extension Center (REC) can help you find funding opportunities. Contact your local REC to find out if you are eligible for free or reduced-price local EHR implementation support.
For More Information
For more information on planning for EHR implementation in a rural health care system, see the following resources.