The Rural Health Resource Center has launched a Web-based, rural health information technology resource center to ensure that rural communities receive the health information technology they need. Based in Duluth, Minn., the center works with other national rural health organizationsincluding the federal Office of Rural Health Policy, state hospital associations and state offices of rural healthto help the nation's approximately 1,600 small rural hospitals improve their performance.
With funding from the Office of Rural Health Policy, the new search engine is intended to assist with rural health IT education, identify and publicize rural health IT models, provide access to rural health IT information, and help develop tools and processes to support rural providers with implementing health IT. The new site will also encourage greater use of electronic health records in rural hospitals. Last year, the center collaborated with the Universities of Minnesota, North Carolina and Southern Maine to complete a national study that found only 20% of small rural hospitals used some form of EHRs. This new system will provide resources and support to help rural hospitals as they transition from paper to electronic records.
Through its contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Rural Health Resource Center receives $500,000 each year "to provide expertise and be a technical arm" so the center can "spread knowledge nationwide," said Terry Hill, executive director of the center. Part of that funding was used to launch the new search engine this year.