GAO report: Health IT, EHRs pose challenges for rural practices

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has released a report detailing major barriers that small and rural physician practices face when attempting to participate in Medicare's new value-based payment models.

The report, which GAO based on a comprehensive literature review and interviews with 38 stakeholders, focuses on five main challenges: (1) financial resources and risk management, (2) health IT and data, (3) population health management care delivery, (4) quality and efficiency performance measurement and reporting and (5) effects of model participating and management compliance with requirements.

One barrier to health IT and data that small rural physician practices face relates to interoperability. When practices face difficulty accessing data outside of their own systems, they are often unable to access the results to tests that were conducted in an outside lab, leading to inefficient care. Another barrier relates to lack of resources related to staff training, as small practices have difficulties educating staff about EHR systems, data entry and data analysis.

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