Healthcare providers serving the approximately 60 million Americans who reside in rural communities face special challenges in their effort to improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes. The realities of distance, isolation, and constricted resources can complicate rural healthcare delivery. Health IT can help provide relief to some of these problems, but there are barriers to IT adoption for many small hospitals.
These barriers usually come in the form of costs for acquisition, installation and ongoing maintenance concerns; no available local expertise to operate a sophisticated IT system; staff inexperience with using information technology solutions, causing adoption resistance; fear of the implementation process; lack of training resources; and worry over ongoing support.
Many of these concerns are valid, if the right technology solution and a vendor knowledgeable about the delivery of rural healthcare are not selected. The first concern — cost — is applicable to almost any size hospitals, but it is particularly important to small, rural facilities. There is hope! Technology exists today in the form of cloud-based computing that allows a small hospitals to adopt the most sophisticated IT solutions without purchasing large amounts of additional hardware or contracting for huge software license fees. The pricing for these solutions is usually all-inclusive and includes everything a small facility needs to get started.
The pricing usually includes implementation, training and ongoing support. Training should be focused on healthcare professionals who have little experience with IT solutions, and their interactions with the system should come naturally and mimic their daily workflow. The system should work the same way clinicians and physicians work in their daily routines.
With cloud technology, the implementation process is minimally disruptive to the daily work routine of a small hospital. There are no large equipment installs and access to the system can be accomplished using the small hospital’s present computers. Training can begin immediately and since it’s web-based, the training can be done any time, any place a clinician has access to a computer.
Ongoing support is always available with a cloud-based solution and support concerns will be minimal if the cloud-based solution is a single platform, single database solution. The barriers to IT adoption can be overcome if a small hospital selects the right technology platform and the right IT delivery partner.