Rural and Critical Access Hospitals

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Critical Access Hospitals are considered the smallest of rural hospitals in the nation, consisting of 25 beds or less and play a crucial role in providing and extending access to care for residents in rural communities. An accident happens in the factory and the patient is taken to the nearest urgent care facility, a small Critical Access Hospital located an hour away. The medical team stabilizes the patient and then sends him/her by helicopter to the nearest tertiary care hospital. The important question to ask here is what if the Critical Access Hospital could electronically transmit the patient’s medical record, including his lab and imaging results to the tertiary care hospital while the patient is still in flight? If the hospital was able to electronically transmit these records, the doctor could review the patient’s records and get a head start on preparation steps for saving his/her life before the patient is even wheeled through the hospital doors. Consider a relatively larger hospital than in the example above. One that offers services that start from the beginning of one’s life to the end of one’s life. Residents in the community, as well as surrounding areas rely on this hospital for diagnostic tests, routine surgeries, rehab and emergencies. But, due to the size of its workforce, it does not have an in-house specialist for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). What if a specialist anywhere in the country or even the world could be monitoring or even teleconference to provide specialty care remotely? With the right technology, including electronic health records (EHRs), this hospital can keep its patients in their own community and close to their families. In August of 2012 the FCC released a report containing information about their Rural Health Care Pilot program. The report claims that the program has helped health care providers establish broadband

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