Evaluation of a Rural Health Information Technology Cooperative

The Rural Healthcare Quality Network (RHQN) of Washington State and AIR worked together to evaluate the impact of implementing a health information technology (HIT) intervention to improve the quality of care in rural critical access hospitals. An on-line community consisting of information for physicians and nurses about acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and community acquired pneumonia (CAP) clinical guidelines, chat rooms, and data feedback on adherence to AMI and CAP guidelines was introduced to the staff at 14 rural hospitals in eastern and western Washington State. AIR analyzed its effects on the hospitals, the staff, and the patients through site visits, staff surveys, patient data, and website usage statistics. The study adapted AMI and CAP guidelines for rural practice, identified improvements in guidelines adherence, and provided information on how to implement this kind of intervention in a rural setting.