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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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What are the issues that are unique to rural health and health IT?

Health IT is health care information technology - the use of computer applications to record, store, protect, retrieve, and transfer clinical, administrative, and financial information electronically within health care settings. The ultimate goal of health IT is to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.

Advances in information technology hold great promise for helping rural residents and rural providers overcome some of the problems of distance and personnel shortages. The adoption and utilization rates of many clinical health IT systems tend to be lower in rural areas than in urban areas. Over 95 percent of critical access hospitals (CAHs) use administrative health IT systems but less than 1/3 use health IT for clinical care. Rural communities face many challenges in adopting clinical health IT including limited access to capital and infrastructure, lack of workforce expertise in IT, and difficulty in obtaining community buy-in. However, smaller rural practices can benefit substantially from the support of a few key personnel - a physician health IT champion or a dedicated IT expert can make a big difference.


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.
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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