Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

Health Care Costs and Financing

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Most rural hospitals need financial assistance in adopting health information systems

President Bush's 2006 Executive Order directed Federal agencies that administer health insurance programs to encourage the use of health information technology (health IT) to improve the quality and delivery of services. However, a new study found that rural hospitals face a number of challenges in implementing health IT systems and electronic medical records. The abundance of available health IT applications (more than 500 vendors) and the dearth of standards for security and confidentiality pose a challenge for rural providers. Further, many small practices lack the technical skills to operate and maintain health IT systems. Finally, the cost of these systems can dissuade a provider from adopting a high-tech solution for reporting medical data and creating patient medical records.

The authors suggest a multifaceted approach is needed to encourage more rural practices to adopt health IT systems. First, payers must come up with a unified performance measure and reporting mechanism. This would assure rural providers that the system they choose meets the reporting requirements. Second, to ensure that the data collected can be shared with other systems, uniform standards, strict security, and unique patient identifiers must be developed. Finally, rural providers must receive incentives from payers to help offset the costs of adopting health IT systems. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15009).

See "Health care information technology in rural America: Electronic medical record adoption status in meeting the national agenda," by James A. Bahensky, M.S., Mirou Jaana, Ph.D., and Marcia M. Ward, Ph.D., in the Spring 2008 Journal of Rural Health 24(2), pp. 101-105.

Return to Contents
Proceed to Next Article


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care