Last week, before the government shutdown, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) posted a blog which indicated that more than 1,000 critical access hospitals (CAHs) and small, rural hospitals had attested to meaningful use.
The ONC said that it had issued a challenge to get that many CAHs and small, rural hospitals to attest to meaningful use by 2014. By Aug 1, 2013, 1,115 (65%) CAHs and small, rural hospitals achieved meaningful use, the agency said on the blog. Specifically, 62% (approximately 822 of 1,332) of CAHs and 77% (approximately 293 of 383) of small, rural hospitals (those generally with less than 50 staffed beds) had attested to meaningful use of EHRs.
“The small rural and CAHs that have achieved this milestone are well distributed across the country – success has not been limited to one region,” Mat Kendall, MPH, director of the office of provider adoption support and Leila Samy, rural health IT coordinator at ONC wrote in the blog. They posted a picture of where these critical access hospitals and rural providers were located.
The rural-urban divide is still significant. Recently, various stakeholders had discussions in Washington D.C. on the meaningful use program, which were focused on the EHR digital divide between rural and urban providers. Many congressman in rural states are looking to extend the meaningful use timeline as to not “further the digital divide.”
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