Resources for Critical Access Hospitals and Small Rural Hospitals

Learn more about the benefits of health IT and take the first step toward implementation and use.

What are the Benefits of Health IT in Rural Settings?

The use of health IT enables better care coordination and instant access to patient information, which can improve health care quality and patient outcomes in rural communities. Follow this link to see some of the ways Health IT will be especially beneficial to rural America where distances between health care providers and hospitals are great and access to specialists is limited.


Overcoming Barriers to Health IT Adoption and Implementation

The realities of distance, isolation, and constricted resources can complicate rural health care delivery. Health IT can help ameliorate some of these problems. Follow this link for resources to learn more about overcoming rural barriers to health care delivery and improving health care quality and patient outcomes in rural settings.


ONC’s Federal partnerships in support of rural health

ONC is collaborating with Federal partners, including the US Departments of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Labor and Education as well as the Federal Communications Commission, to 1) support rural health and rural economic development and 2) help rural health care providers and hospitals nationwide leverage technology to optimize their communities health systems and improve the quality of their care.

HHS and US Department of Agriculture Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) [PDF - 446 KB] linking rural health clinics and hospitals to USDA grants and loans to help fund health IT infrastructure (e.g., hardware and software).

HHS and Veterans Administration MOU [PDF - 419 KB] to improve health care coordination and quality for rural and highly rural veterans.

HHS and Department of Labor MOU [PDF - 634 KB] to leverage current resources to promote a health IT workforce that is a) available in sufficient numbers and skills to support health IT needs, including adoption and use of health IT and b) actively employed supporting health IT needs.

Rural Health Evaluation Reports

Overcoming Challenges to Health IT Adoption in Small, Rural Hospitals [PDF - 2.62 MB] - October 2011

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) funded the Altarum Institute to examine challenges to health IT adoption in small, rural hospitals. This report provides summarizes specific health IT adoption challenges faced by small, rural hospitals and discusses key management strategies they can employ to address the challenges. Findings in this study draw upon information from site visits and interviews with key staff at eight small, rural hospitals throughout the United States, selected from a range of levels of EHR adoption, financial health, and patient and payer mix.

Estimating EHR Incentive Payments for Critical Access Hospitals [PDF - 2.07 MB] - October 2011

This white paper reviews key components of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program specific to the circumstances and need of Critical Access Hospitals.