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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Rural Health

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Health Information Technology

In rural communities, the application of Health Information Technology (HIT) enables the coordination of care as well as the maintenance of the continuum of care across the nation.  Learn more about Health IT.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), an environment has been created that requires the adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) by 2014 for seventy percent of the primary care provider population. Rural providers must be aware of their strategic needs before the purchase, installation, and adoption of EMRs. See an overview of the Recovery Act.

HITECH Grant Programs

To help potential applicants and other interested parties better understand the federal grants process, The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has prepared a getting started Grants Primer, which highlights the key steps needed to find and apply for grants.

Health Information Technology Extension Program >
State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program >

Meaningful Use

ARRA authorizes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide a reimbursement incentive for physician and hospital providers who are successful in becoming “meaningful users” of an electronic health record (EHR). These incentive payments begin in 2011 and gradually phase down. Starting in 2015, providers are expected to have adopted and be actively utilizing an EHR in compliance with the “meaningful use” definition or they will be subject to financial penalties under Medicare. 

More on Health IT Meaningful Use >

Meaningful Use Resources

HRSA’s  Office of Rural Health Policy has provided a broad overview Primer for HIT adoption in Critical Access Hospitals based on the key lessons learned from the CAH HIT network grant program in the context of ARRA meaningful use.

Meaningful Use and Critical Access Hospitals: A Primer on HIT Adoption in the Rural Health Care Setting (PDF - 532 KB)

Critical Access Hospital Health Information Technology Network Grant Program Evaluation

OHRP funded grantees through its Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Health Information Technology (HIT) Network Implementation Program, which promotes the implementation of HIT in CAHs and their associated network of providers in States that are current Medicare Flex grantees.This report describes an evaluation of these grantees that were charged with designing, creating, and implementing functional pilot networks to improve coordination of care in their communities, and provide lessons learned for future providers and networks in adopting HIT.  

More on the Evaluation

Toolkits

The Rural Health IT Adoption Toolbox is a rural-specific evaluation tool funded by the Office of Rural Health Policy.

Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research Toolkit helps health care organizations plan, implement and evaluate health information technology.

Stratis Health HIT Toolkit for Small and Rural Communities Go to exit disclaimer.  is a CD-ROM that provides organizations with tools, tested in the Critical Access Hospital environment, to aid in planning for and making informed choices for HIT.

Rural Health Research Gateway

Rural Health Research Gateway logo.

The Rural Health Research Gateway Go to exit disclaimer. is a “one stop shop” for research findings from all the Rural Health Research Centers.

Subscribe to Research Gateway email updates Go to exit disclaimer. to receive periodic notices of new publications.