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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology

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How do we build buy-in for a RHIO in a rural community?

Providers, especially in smaller and rural communities, often are willing to share information with other similar providers to improve the delivery of care for their patients.  This desire to promote more efficient and effective care can be leveraged to build support for a RHIO.  Starting with a narrower focus such as the ability to exchange lab results can provide the basic infrastructure.  With wider stakeholder acceptance of the technology, the scope of electronic clinical messaging can then be expanded.  Also, a technical infrastructure can be created that addresses security or competitive concerns, such as not aggregating patient level data.  However, when making these types of determinations, the health information exchange organization should consider whether the potential for misuse outweighs the limited value of the data shared.

A rural RHIO also provides a forum to bring providers together to consider the role of health information technology in their community.  With a robust patient base, health information exchange has the potential to positively impact healthcare efficiency, quality, and safety.  Moreover, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), to receive incentives under the Medicare and Medicaid program, eligible providers and hospitals will need to demonstrate the capacity to exchange electronic health information and integrate data from other sources into their EHR.  Thus, an additional financial benefit exists for participation in a RHIO.

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Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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