Nav: Home

Rural nursing homes are falling behind in health information technology

December 13, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 million older Americans depend on nursing homes for their health care. The 16,000 nursing homes in the United States serve populations of all sizes; yet, according to new research from the University of Missouri, rural communities are lagging in health information technology (IT) needed to improve quality, safety and efficiency in health care. This gap could have implications for patient care as nursing homes in rural areas may have less capacity to exchange information with hospitals to ensure high-quality transitions in care.

"Previous studies demonstrate that IT sophistication can improve health outcomes for patients, such as reducing hospitalizations," said Greg Alexander, professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing. "The benefits of IT sophistication do not differ based on geography; however, in this national assessment, we found a significant gap in IT sophistication between rural and urban areas."

The study is the first national assessment of nursing home IT use since 2004. The researchers found that nursing homes located in metropolitan areas had greater IT laboratory capabilities for resident registration and admission. Urban nursing homes also were better at conducting and verifying medical tests, which can impact and improve patient care.

"As competition for experienced health care IT professionals increases in urban areas, rural health care organizations are finding it difficult to compete for needed talent," Alexander said. "Policy makers need to be aware of the unique challenges facing rural health organizations and provide the necessary incentives to help rural nursing homes improve their IT sophistication. Improvement of IT sophistication will lead to better patient outcomes and a better quality of life for nursing home residents."

Alexander recently received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar program grant to Australia from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. The grant will be used to study health informatics in nursing homes. He will be studying IT sophistication and quality measures at Macquarie University as part of a project to improve patient care in Australia's nursing homes.

"The state of nursing home information technology sophistication in rural and non-rural US markets," was published recently in the Journal of Rural Health. The research was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R01HS022497). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Health Care Articles:

Care management program reduced health care costs in Partners Pioneer ACO
Pesearchers at Partners HealthCare published a study showing that Partners Pioneer ACO not only reduces spending growth, but does this by reducing avoidable hospitalizations for patients with elevated but modifiable risks.
Health care leaders predict patients will lose under President Trump's health care plans
According to a newly released NEJM Catalyst Insights Report, health care executives and industry insiders expect patients -- more than any other stakeholder -- to be the big losers of any comprehensive health care plan from the Trump administration.
The Lancet: The weaponisation of health care: Using people's need for health care as a weapon of war over six years of Syrian conflict
Marking six years since the start of the Syrian conflict (15 March), a study in The Lancet provides new estimates for the number of medical personnel killed: 814 from March 2011 to February 2017.
In the January Health Affairs: Brazil's primary health care expansion
The January issue of Health Affairs includes a study that explores a much-discussed issue in global health: the role of governance in improving health, which is widely recognized as necessary but is difficult to tie to actual outcomes.
Advocacy and community health care models complement research and clinical care
Global lung cancer researchers and patient advocates today emphasized that new models of delivering care and communicating about cancer care play an important role in the fight against lung cancer.
More Health Care News and Health Care Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...