Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Events Driving Health IT

As a result of ARRA and the passage of healthcare reform legislation that will help deal with emerging reimbursement models and shifting consumer health trends, events are driving radical changes in the nation’s healthcare system and bringing about the convergence of telehealth, electronic health records, and health information exchanges.

This topic is the focus of the white paper “The Crossroads of Telehealth, Electronic Health Records & Health Information Exchange: Planning for Rural Communities” just published by the Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center (NRTRC). NRTC is one of five TRCs in the nation and leverages the collective expertise of 33 telehealth networks across Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and United States affiliated Pacific Islands to share resources to assist in developing new telehealth programs.

“Accelerating adoption and utilization of telehealth technologies, telemedicine in particular will be critical to a successful stakeholder response to the disruptive changes now underway in healthcare”, said NRTC Executive Director, Christina B Thielst. “By leveraging telehealth networks and their existing infrastructures, Regional Extension Centers, HIEs, and other data-sharing initiatives will be better positioned to fulfill their commitments to the healthcare delivery system of the future—a system in which even the most rural and remote populations have timely access to care and their health records.”

The white paper explores emerging trends and recent disruptors impacting the healthcare delivery system and examines the opportunities they present for the advancement of telecommunications-based health solutions and the broadband infrastructure available through telehealth networks. The paper takes an in-depth look at the various uses of telehealth and the most common delivery models of telemedicine, as well as the role of the telehealth network and Telehealth Resource Centers (TRC) in the communities.

Finally, the white paper highlights the evolution of the REACH Montana Telehealth Network using teleradiology at just three remote sites now provides services to a consortium of healthcare providers at 18 sites linked by high-bandwidth telecommunications in the north central region of Montana. REACH, considers the HIE to be a primary function, and is currently working to leverage its existing T1 infrastructure to create “railroad tracks” to carry medical data and information within the region and beyond.

“This white paper is an excellent analysis of the intersection of telehealth and health IT and the opportunities and challenges electronic technology will bring to rural America”, said Terry J. Hill, Executive Director for the Rural Health Resource Center, the Duluth, Minnesota-based national knowledge center for rural hospitals.”

For more information, contact Christina Thielst by email at or call (805) 845-2450, or go to to download the white paper.