Patient Record Access Vital to Improve Rural Healthcare


EHR leaders Cerner and Epic offer cost-effective programs that allow smaller healthcare facilities to link into a larger local hospital’s EHR network to enhance interoperability with the nearby health system as well as to provide a lower cost EHR implementation. A more complete continuity of care, which can include access to legacy records, supports improved outcomes for the 20 percent of Americans who live in rural areas and often have more long-term chronic conditions then their urban counterparts.

Rural Healthcare

Healthcare accessibility for the 57 million Americans who live in rural communities is the main driver behind National Rural Health Day. The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health has set aside the third Thursday of November since 2011 to focus on collaboration, education, communication and innovation to improve health in small towns around the country.

In terms of health IT innovation, EHR adoption and interoperability have made steady gains in the last several years, but rural health providers still face challenges in sharing records. Thankfully, EHR market leaders Cerner and Epic each have addressed this critical need by adding platforms within their systems to assist rural hospitals and clinics.

  • Cerner’s CommunityWorks provides an integrated digital record of a patient’s health history that includes clinical and financial data across the continuum of care. This ability to share information across facilities takes advantage of Cerner’s expertise in IT and process improvement to help shift rural healthcare to more proactive health management.
  • Epic’s Community Connect allows hospitals to connect to a larger local hospital to access the Epic EHR network. This enhances interoperability and provides a uniform electronic health record among provider facilities. The benefits include a better coordination of patient care, avoidance of duplicate testing/procedures and more opportunities to measure quality and manage costs.

These EHR market leaders offer a means for rural healthcare providers to provide local care with state-of-the-art technology. This is important considering that 60 percent of Americans live with at least one chronic disease that can benefit from treatment over a long period of time. And, rural areas tend to trend higher than the national average for seven main chronic diseases, including: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Further, medical record retention laws vary state to state and by condition, spanning 20-30+ years in some cases. Providers of all sizes, and in all locations, need to have a technology game plan that makes medical records — both active and historical — accessible.

As a pioneer in patient, employee, and business record archiving, Harmony Healthcare IT has worked with more than 500 clinical, financial and administrative software brands in the areas of data consultation, extraction, migration, and retention. HealthData Archiver® consolidates health information silos with as part of a storage platform that provides secure and easy access to legacy records. With Single Sign-On, clinicians are able to access health data and the complete historical patient record in-context from within the active instances of Epic Community Connect or Cerner CommunityWorks – as well as Allscripts and other leading EHR brands.

As technology continues to enable healthcare to advance across even the most remote of rural areas, we are encouraged by the opportunity to deliver legacy records wherever they are needed. And, telehealth continues to play an essential role in healthcare delivery — especially until Americans are ready to opt for a yet-available COVID vaccine — we support that the documentation requirements for a telemedicine visit are the same as a face-to-face encounter. The information about the visit, history, review of systems and consultative notes must be documented and retained.

Is your team charged with keeping the flow of health data moving across its entire lifecycle? Do you need legacy health data availability from your remote clinics as well as onsite at a healthcare center? Are you concerned about how to meet the 21st Century Cures Act requirements?

As an award-winning health data management firm ranked #1 in the 2020 Best in KLAS Software & Services Report as a Category Leader in Data Archiving, we can help.


Nov 19 2020

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