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

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How does this health IT project fit into a broader strategic plan?

Health IT is a tool to improve the efficiency and quality for the provision of health care. The goals of a health IT project should be driven by needs that have been identified by the organization and can be attained by the adoption of a health IT solution. While health IT implementation can be difficult in all health care settings, rural providers often face additional challenges including recruiting and retaining staff with IT experience, obtaining broadband connectivity, tighter budgets, and lower patient volumes to recoup the benefits of health IT project costs.

In developing a project, start by determining the organization's present circumstances:

  • What issues are you seeking to address?
  • Why do you want to address these issues now?
  • How do you intend to address these issues?
  • What health IT solutions have already been implemented?
  • Have there been changes in the policy or regulatory environment?

When deciding to embark on a health IT project, consideration of its implications for your organization's finances, for patient care, and for other longer-term goals is needed. This can only be accomplished through thoughtful strategic planning.

For example, a small rural clinic may be seeking a way to improve its ability to document clinical care. However, its immediate goal may be to track care for its diabetic patients. The clinic may find that implementing a computerized disease registry may meet its proximate needs and serve as an interim solution until its financial and administrative abilities allow for adoption of a more comprehensive IT solution. Similarly, a critical access hospital may find that the implementation of a store-and-forward radiology telehealth application may be the first step to starting a larger telehealth program with real-time communication capabilities in the community.

Resources:

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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Health Information Technology Toolboxes help health centers, safety net providers, and ambulatory care providers with electronic and online resources and technical assistance to improve patient care.  More>
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