On the Monday, Nov. 14, the Arizona Rural Health Association and the Rural Health Office at The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health will sponsor a forum titled, "Health Information Technology in Rural Arizona: A Tool to Improve Healthcare Workforce Recruitment and Retention, Quality & Education" at the Arizona State Capitol Governor's Reception Room, 1700 W. Washington in Phoenix. The forum will promote the use of health information technology (HIT) in rural health facilities and identify gaps and actions needed to advance its use.
On April 24, 2004, President George Bush set a goal of the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) that could be used to allow communication across health institutions and insurers within 10 years. To support that goal, he established the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT). ONCHIT has since issued a Framework for Strategic Action that includes four requirements:
1. develop interoperability standards;
2. support and encourage the development and use of EHRs and electronic data exchange infrastructure;
3. establish policies and regulation consistent with these goals and information security requirements; and
4. create an Internet-based architecture for nationwide health information exchange.
Early adoption of HIT initiatives across Arizona are expected to: 1) ensure health information is available at the point of care for all patients; 2) reduce medical errors and avoid duplicative medical procedures; 3) improve coordination of care among hospitals, physicians and other health professionals; 4) further health care research; and 5) provide consumers with their own health information to encourage greater participation in their own health care decisions. In support of these initiatives and infrastructure development, Gov. Janet Napolitano convened a Call to Action Summit (Oct. 5, 2005) and created a Steering Committee for Arizona Health-e Connection to develop a roadmap for users of the infrastructure (Aug. 30, 2005).
Rural Arizona health care needs specific consideration and preparation if it is to be an active participant in HIT development. This Nov. 14 forum will provide participants both education and an opportunity to define what rural health care providers need to actively participate and shape the HIT agenda in their communities.
The registration fee for the forum is $20. To register, contact Rebecca Ruiz, Rural Health Office, (520) 626-7946, ext. 254.