September 23, 2017 |
Rural Hospitals Face Tough Choices On Computerized Records
April 25, 2014  | 

RED LODGE, MT -  One of the biggest challenges American hospitals face right now is adopting electronic medical records systems. It’s costing tens of billions of dollars, eating up tons of staff time and it's especially tough for the country's 2,000 rural and small town hospitals.

Rural hospitals are typically cash strapped, and people with information technology skills can be hard to find outside of big cities.
That means a lot of small hospitals are turning to bigger hospitals for help, and giving up some independence in return. The hospital in Red Lodge is one of these. A historic mining town just outside Yellowstone National Park, Red Lodge is about 60 miles west of Billings. On a recent spring day, the only thing slowing cars on Main Street in Red Lodge is a flock of wild turkeys strutting across the pavement.
Just days before, though, this road was covered with two feet of snow. Getting in and out of Red Lodge can be a challenge, as Dr. Billy Oley knows. He lives just a few miles from where he works, at the 10-bed hospital here.

“There was a time that the nurses won't let me forget,” he says. “I drove my tractor to work one day because I couldn't get my truck here. I had to plow with the tractor all the way to the hospital, and I just kept it here.”

Dr. Billy Oley, left, and Dr. William George review an electronic medical record at the 10-bed hospital in Red Lodge, Montana (Photo by Eric Whitney).On days like that, Oley and his patients are particularly grateful for his hospital's electronic medical records. He can share patient records instantly and securely with the big hospital in Billings and get expert advice on an almost daily basis. Continue>

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