EHR Software Empowers Rural Healthcare Providers

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Electronic Health Records (also called Electronic Medical Records) are changing the Healthcare industry by providing better records access for physicians and patients. Medical practice managers in larger cities have already seen the amazing impact of EHR software on patient heath, satisfaction, and on clinic profit margins. Now, rural clinics are getting into the game too!

It is amazing what can happen when people put their heads together to try and find an answer to a difficult problem. Well, it is happening in rural Colorado. The Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) and the Colorado Telehealth Network (CTN) have decided that since getting health care to the rural areas of Colorado is difficult using the more traditional methods, they are going to turn to telemedicine via broadband Internet.

Craig Byer, of Search HealthIT, wrote in an article “EHR adoption, telemedicine feasible for Colorado's rural providers” (17 May 2012) in which he noted that these rural areas have long been left out of the loop when it came to participating in the EHR technology. Laying fiber and even satellite reception for any sort of Internet network is extremely difficult in the mountains and farmland regions, not only in Colorado but any place these physical conditions exist.

How does telemedicine break rural boundaries?

Now there is newer technology that is being combined with the technology provided by EHR software companies. It is broadband Internet.  The CORHIO-CTN collaboration, joined by C-level executives, as well as physicians, hospitals, and health systems across the state, came together and created a plan. They had to agree to work together and share resources.

“The initiative required a "culture of leadership," said Janice Whittleton, director of business development and outreach at CORHIO, adding that the biggest barrier was not technology– it was getting leaders together to hammer out a plan where CORHIO would operate on CTN's network and, also, so CTN could leverage the technical assets of the HIE.”

It was noted that this service will not only provide a system that is not a large in-house expense, but uses advanced services available in distant hospitals such as the radiologists assigned to that specific clinic. There are specialists and other healthcare providers available in the network. Most importantly, they are getting the grant money that has been denied them for quite a while to implement this monumental task.

It is not only rural areas that will benefit from the Colorado Telehealth Network. An example is quoted below on how the medical resources will include all within the network.

Larger clinics and hospitals benefit too –

Telemedicine services are expected to help radiology imaging services as well. For example, Denver Health — a teaching hospital with more than 450 beds providing care to approximately 25% of the city's residents — does business with many hospitals in the state. When the hospital's providers share images with organizations outside CTN, they "have to set up a private connection between themselves and the facility they're exchanging data with," said CTN's Thompson. However, using CTN's broadband connection, Denver Health is able to connect with one pipe to any facility on CTN, as the secure connection is already established.

These are exciting times in the field of medicine, and we are most pleased to be a part of it. If you are interested in learning more about what is available through EHR software and COHRIO, contact us.

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