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Wide Differences In Rural Health Information Technology Adoption

Bethesda, MDOver the past few years, health providers in the United States have been adopting health information technology. While prior national research has shown that rural providers have introduced health IT at the same, or greater, rates than their urban counterparts, a new study, being released as a Web First by Health Affairs, found dramatic variations among rural providers, ranging from 91.0 percent for podiatrists to 9.5 percent for dentists. (See exhibit below.) The author obtained the meaningful-use achievement data from the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs between 2011 and 2014, which contained information from 548,961 providers and hospitals.



©2016 Health Affairs

Variation In Rural Health Information Technology Adoption And Use
By Dawn M. Heisey-Grove
Heisey-Grove is an analyst at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Department of Health and Human Services, in Washington, D.C.
This study, part of the journal's DataWatch series, will also appear in the February issue of
Health Affairs.
  • In her study the author noted that while initial health IT adoption and meaningful-use achievement were higher among rural providers and hospitals than those in urban areas, these populations were less likely to return in subsequent years of the incentive program. On the other hand, the author found that technical assistance from a Regional Extension Center was strongly associated with meaningful-use achievement among rural providers. "The unequal adoption of certified health IT may make seamless exchange and use of electronic information within rural areas challenging," the author concluded. "Rural providers and hospitals may require additional assistance to support their ongoing use of health IT and sustain delivery and payment reform efforts."