Roadmap for the Adoption of Health Information Technology in Rural Communities

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
January 2006
Project completed:
August 2006
The goal of this project was to develop a reference document that would be provided to attendees at Office of Rural Health Policy's September 2006 conference and widely distributed to other interested parties following the conference. Based on a review of the relevant literature as well as exhaustive review of relevant web sites, this document compiles information designed to help all types of rural health care providers along the road to adoption of health information technology.

Although the principal focus of this document was on providers who are only now beginning to think about adopting a new information technology and who are not sure where to start the process, providers who are further along in the implementation process should also find the reference document useful. Key chapters include a discussion of "critical first steps", including the importance of aligning health IT investments with the provider's larger strategic goals, conducting assessments of the provider's readiness to change internal processes as necessary to make a new technology work, and the pivotal role to be played by a clinical IT champion. Providers who work through these critical first steps and determine that they are ready for a health IT investment will find further guidance on product and vendor selection - including developing a request for proposals, evaluating vendor bids, and negotiating the final contract - as well as suggestions for possible financing alternatives. References to existing tools are provided throughout the document. The document also provides an overview of several Federal grant/loan programs that may provide financial support for health IT investments, a glossary of key terms, and an annotated list of other helpful resources.