Plan steps up ru­ral HIT

Health Data Management - - NEWSLINE - —J.G.

The Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices has un­veiled a new ru­ral health strat­egy that in­cludes sup­port­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies, im­prov­ing in­ter­op­er­abil­ity of health in­for­ma­tion and in­creas­ing the use of telemedicine.

Ini­tial goals of the strat­egy, an­nounced by CMS Ad­min­is­tra­tor Seema Verma, in­clude ap­ply­ing a ru­ral per­spec­tive to CMS pro­grams and poli­cies, im­prov­ing ac­cess to care through provider en­gage­ment and sup­port, ad­vanc­ing tele­health and telemedicine; em­pow­er­ing ru­ral pa­tients to make de­ci­sions about their care, and lev­er­ag­ing part­ner­ships to reach strate­gic goals.

CMS fur­ther seeks to re­duce provider bur­dens, im­prove qual­ity of care and fo­cus on the opi­oid epi­demic that af­flicts many ru­ral res­i­dents. CMS views telemedicine as a tech­nol­ogy to bet­ter meet the needs of un­der­served in­di­vid­u­als, par­tic­u­larly spe­cial­ist care, and to im­prove ac­cess and qual­ity while re­duc­ing read­mis­sions and un­nec­es­sary emer­gency de­part­ment vis­its.

The agency ac­knowl­edges it needs to re­duce bar­ri­ers that have im­peded use of telemedicine in ru­ral Amer­ica—it’s aim­ing to re­duce such bar­ri­ers as re­im­burse­ment, cross-state li­cen­sure is­sues, and ad­min­is­tra­tive and financial bur­dens to im­ple­ment­ing the tech­nol­ogy.

CMS will work with the Of­fice of the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for Health In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and other fed­eral of­fi­cials to pro­mote in­ter­op­er­abil­ity and in­crease the use of elec­tronic health records in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, as well as work­ing with health insurers to in­crease ru­ral health plan options.

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