Rural communities throughout the state of Arkansas will have the opportunity to receive funding to connect their hospitals to the state’s electronic health records (EHRs) database, the Delta Regional Authority and Office of Health Information Technology announced.
A new initiative, the SHARE Connectivity Program, will make awards available to designated critical access hospitals and small rural hospitals in 11 Delta counties, as well as in seven counties with such facilities outside the Delta to help with the costs of connecting the hospitals’ EHR systems with the statewide health information exchange (HIE) known as SHARE (State Health Alliance for Records Exchange).
The awards of up to $10,000 per facility will assist with implementation costs. Currently, EHR vendor costs of $6,000-$15,000 for implementation are a barrier to some hospitals in the state.
Critical access hospitals and small regional hospitals across the state have already transitioned from paper records to EHR systems. However, these hospitals may not be able to efficiently exchange patient information with larger hospital systems and other treating healthcare providers without connecting to SHARE.
“These small hospital systems are a critical part of the Arkansas healthcare network,” Ray Scott, director of the state’s Office of Health Information Technology, said in a statement. “Having them connect to SHARE will give them access to more complete health information about their patients, and improve their ability to coordinate their patients’ care with other providers.”
“The SHARE Connectivity Program is an important step in bringing our state’s rural hospitals to the next level of health care delivery,” Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe added in a statement. “Connecting these hospitals to our state’s network of electronic health records will provide much needed coordinated health care to Arkansas families and communities.”