What other Federal initiatives are underway to support health IT in rural areas?
Broadband telecommunications infrastructure can improve Internet access, facilitate secure provider networks, or enable telehealth programs. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are co-sponsoring programs to improve broadband infrastructure in rural areas. If your area already has broadband access, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), affiliated with the FCC, allows providers to receive discounts on Internet and other telecommunications services.
Health IT is a clear priority among Federal efforts to improve health care quality and access. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes significant funding to promote the use of Electronic Medical Records (EHRs) by providers and the training of health IT professionals. The most direct financial impact to rural providers will likely come from the newly authorized payments for eligible professionals and hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid as an incentive to becoming meaningful users of certified EHRs. Non-hospital-based providers and hospitals that implement EHR systems will be eligible to receive payments for health IT adoption beginning in 2011. Rural health providers are eligible for a 10 percent increase in these payment amounts.
E-mail the HealthIT e-mail box: firstname.lastname@example.org