Health IT Workforce Shortages in Rural America Widen Gap Between ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’

 

SAN ANTONIO, TX (Sept. 16, 2014) – Critical shortages of health care IT skillsets are creating health and economic disparities especially in rural America where residents are poorer, sicker and more likely to be uninsured and threaten sustainable health care across the country, Rural Health Telecom℠ founder and CEO Tim Koxlien said in a video blog for health care providers released here today. “Health care providers (HCP) in rural communities lack the IT personnel required to manage complex networks that enable lifesaving, cost-reducing and innovative services such as telemedicine and telehealth,” Koxlien said. “Telehealth can help alleviate the industry’s national shortage of doctors and nurses in rural areas, but health care providers need skilled and qualified IT engineers in urban and rural areas in order to facilitate telemedicine applications and internal infrastructure.”

A report by the College of Health Information Management Executives concluded that 67 percent of chief information officers and human resource executives are experiencing IT staff shortages and 59 percent say such staffing challenges will negatively impact their chances to receive Meaningful Use incentives. Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs award HCPs on the adoption and implementation of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology, which requires advanced IT skillsets to manage and upgrade EHR networks, tools and applications.

Koxlien released Rural Health Telecom℠’s first video blog in an effort to raise awareness of the alarming disparity in health and economic outcomes between rural and urban areas on the occasion of National Health Information Technology Week, Sept. 15-19.

“This nationwide spotlight is important because health information technology possesses the tools to improve quality of healthcare delivery, increase patient safety, decrease medical errors and strengthen the interaction between patients and healthcare providers,” Koxlien said. “NHIT Week is a tremendous opportunity to recognize health IT issues and collaborate on solutions that can ensure doctors focus on what they do best: caring for patients and saving lives.” For additional information about National Health IT Week, visit www.healthitweek.org/.

About National Health Information Technology Week

Now in its ninth year, National Health IT Week is a collaborative forum assembling key healthcare constituents—vendors, provider organizations, payers, pharmaceutical/biotech companies, government agencies, industry/professional associations, research foundations, and consumer protection groups— working together to elevate national attention to the necessity of advancing health IT. For more information, log on to www.healthitweek.org.

About Rural Health Telecom (RHT)

Rural Health Telecom, a division of TeleQuality Communications, Inc., is based in San Antonio, Texas. Its rural health care provider clients receive the largest amount of total funding in the continental United States. Founded in 1999, RHT focuses exclusively on supplying quality telecommunications products and services to health care facilities in America. Rural Health Telecom has made Inc. magazine’s 500/5000 list of the fastest growing telecommunications companies three years in a row. For more information please visit www.ruralhealthtelecom.com.

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