A report by CHI, based on interviews with rural health clinics (RHCs), found that no RHC could track or report on all of the data elements requested. Lack of staff resources and/or time and technological barriers were cited as the primary reasons. Because many RHCs are the only medical provider in a geographic area sometimes exceeding 50 square miles, and because staff resources are limited, collecting data for purposes other than those required for reimbursement purposes is not a high priority. Despite numerous data collection efforts at the community level and grant initiatives whose reach extends to rural areas of Colorado, there is an inverse relationship between health care providers’ distance from Denver and the amount and quality of data available from these providers, the report said.
CHI recommended a number of options, including targeted funding for information technology infrastructure, circuit-riding regional IT specialists, a centralized data warehouse or clearinghouse and an association of rural health clinics.