The Current Status of Health Information Technology (HIT) Use in CAHs (Briefing Paper #11)


Both the public and private sectors have focused considerable attention on health information technology (HIT) as a potential means of improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care. The purpose of this project is to assess the current status of HIT use in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) nationally. This project is part of the federal Office of Rural Health Policy’s initiative to implement national performance measures for the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program.

Both an executive summary and a full briefing paper are available for download.

Key Findings:

  • The survey found that CAHs have relatively high use rates for many administrative and financial HIT applications, such as claims submission, billing, accounting, and patient registration, but much lower use rates for a number of clinical applications, such as bar-coded patient identification bracelets and electronic medical records.
  • Half of CAHs have a formal Information Technology (IT) plan, and three-quarters of CAH budgets include funding for purchasing IT.
  • The vast majority of CAHs have high speed Internet access, and many CAHs are computerizing radiology, lab, and pharmacy functions.


Health Information Technology (HIT)