Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HIN Helps in Rural Kansas

A rural Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN) will help rural medical providers in Kansas exchange digital health records, link individual medical providers, but also link regional exchanges such as the Wichita Health Information and eHealthAlign in Kansas City into a single statewide network.

“Healthcare really is local and regional, and Kansas City is not going to want to do the same thing as Wichita, nor will the rural Health Information Network want to do exactly what the urban organizations are doing, so KHIN has to be responsive to the needs of each organization”, according to Laura McCrary, Director of the Kansas Health Information Network.

As explained by McCrary, “The large urban areas have the resources and the provider base to bring the community together to use the HIE but rural communities and hospitals generally don’t have the required expertise and are located all over the state.”

About a dozen hospitals are ready to begin working with the rural network as reported by McCrary, and have implemented enough of their electronic health record systems that they now are able to begin to exchange information “The new rural network will be comparable to the urban based networks and help providers with similar needs decide how to share data and understand what privacy and security protocols need to be place,” said McCrary.

The Kansas Foundation for Medical Care as the operator of the Regional Extension Center was granted a total of $9.1 million to help the state’s more than 1,900 healthcare providers’ transition to EHRs and help with EHR adoption in both urban and rural communities.

The REC works with healthcare providers to help them select their software vendor. For example, Ness County Administrator Kyle Hahn reports that his 20 bed critical access hospital in western Kansas spent several months evaluating EHR systems. The hospital eventually based their selection of the vendor on cost and the company’s ability to program a custom interface with Ness County’s practice management software.