Critical Access Hospitals Still Facing EHR Adoption Challenges

Jennifer Bresnick | EHR Intelligence | July 11, 2014

The high costs of EHR implementation, a chronic lack of adequate staffing, and a lack of access to quality high-speed broadband internet are still presenting significant barriers to critical access hospitals (CAHs) throughout the nation, according to a new Health Affairs study authored by members of the Office of the National Coordinator.  CAHs remain less likely than other healthcare organizations to adopt an EHR, participate in health information exchange, and offer patient portal access, highlighting the continued struggle to adopt technologies sufficient to participate in Stage 2 of meaningful use.

“Despite major national investments to support the adoption of health IT, concerns persist that barriers are inhibiting that adoption and the use of advanced health IT capabilities in rural areas in particular,” the study says.  “Maintaining and improving access to high-quality health care in rural areas has been a long-standing goal of policy makers. Building and strengthening the health IT infrastructure everywhere, particularly in rural areas, is critical to improving quality and enabling delivery system transformation.”

After fielding a survey to nearly 800 CAHs, the researchers found several significant trends.  CAHs owned by larger hospital systems were much more likely to have adopted advanced technologies, as were those who pooled purchasing resources with other facilities in a group arrangement.  Non-profit organizations also surged ahead of their peers.  Sixty percent of CAHs reported experiencing at least one major financial challenge to EHR adoption, while 30% saw technical challenges and 20% admitted running into roadblocks when it came to privacy and security...