National Rural Health Information Technology Coalition

National Rural Health Information Technology Coalition

The National Rural Health Information Technology (HIT) Coalition is an informal network of rural and HIT leaders from organizations at every level, working together to advance the implementation of HIT across rural America by:

  • Enhancing the understanding of rural HIT issues.
  • Advocating for HIT applications and solutions relevant to rural facilities.
  • Helping to drive knowledge and information about rural HIT throughout the country.

The National Rural HIT Coalition meets by conference call and annually in-person. The Coalition is supported by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) and coordinated by TASC, a program of The Center. This group will next meet on May 30, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. Central Time for an update on state and federal HIT legislation and regulations as well as COVID-19 HIT updates related to telehealth, the FCC Connected Care Pilot and Rural Health Care programs, and cybersecurity. For more information about getting involved with the National Rural HIT Coalition, please email Nicole Clement.

Updated Rural Cybersecurity Toolkit and National Rural Health Information Technology Coalition

Cybersecurity Toolkit for Rural Hospitals and Clinics

Ransomware and cybercrime are growing threats to all health care facilities – big or small. Protecting a facility from cyber threats can be a daunting task. However, failure to protect a facility from cyberattacks can result in fees, fines, litigation, media stories, mistrust, and decreased market capture. Check out the following updated Cybersecurity Toolkit and ongoing coalition focused on rural health information technology (HIT).

This updated toolkit from the National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center) is organized into four steps to guide rural hospitals and clinics in developing and fostering a well-rounded cybersecurity program, including awareness, assessment, implementation & remediation, and education. This toolkit includes resources from various governmental and non-profit organizations. It also includes checklists and tools that are appropriate for all audiences, including hospitals and clinics in rural settings. This resource was supported by FORHP.

Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Overview: Vendor Directory

An updated version of the HCAHPS Vendor Directory is now available.

The directory provides information on HCAHPS including the benefits and challenges to implementing a HCAHPS survey process with small rural hospitals, specifically critical access hospitals (CAHs). The directory also identifies certified HCAHPS vendors that have opted to list their services, including a description of their experience working with small rural hospitals. This particular resource is beneficial to both the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP) and the Flex Program’s Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) work to support hospital HCAHPS initiatives.

CMS Adds New COVID-19 Clinical Trials Improvement Activity to the Quality Payment Program

CMS issued a letter thanking clinicians for their ongoing efforts to treat patients and combat COVID-19 and shared additional details on the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) improvement activity. As announced earlier this month, clinicians who participate in a COVID-19 clinical trial and report their findings to a clinical data repository or registry may now earn credit in MIPS under the Improvement Activities performance category for the 2020 performance period by attesting to this new activity.

Click to View Letter

Funding Opportunity: Rural Residency Planning & Development (RRPD) Program

HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is pleased to announce the Rural Residency Planning & Development (RRPD) Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) has opened on grants.gov (announcement number: HRSA-20-107) and will be accepting applications through June 30, 2020.  The RRPD program is a multi-year HRSA initiative to develop new, accredited and sustainable rural residency programs to support the expansion of the physician workforce and increase opportunities for residents to train in rural communities.  HRSA will award approximately 11 grants up to $750,000 each to support award recipient’s planning and development costs, while achieving program accreditation through the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Additionally, all RRPD recipients are required to collaborate with the RRPD Technical Assistance Center throughout the three year period of performance.

A live technical assistance webinar is scheduled for Friday, May 15th, 2020 1-2:00 PM CST to assist applicants in preparing their applications.  The webinar will be recorded.

Call-In Number:  1-800-857-5025

Participant Code: 3414395

Weblink: https://hrsa.connectsolutions.com/rrpd_ta_2020/

For questions regarding this funding opportunity, please contact Sheena Johnson at RuralResidency@hrsa.gov.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

April 30, 2020

New Funding Opportunity: HRSA Rural Residency Planning and Development (RRPD) Program  – June 30. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) RRPD Program is a multi-year initiative aimed at expanding the physician workforce and increasing opportunities for residents to train in rural communities across America. HRSA will make 11 awards of up to $750,000 each to support the development of new, sustainable rural residency programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).  To read the full application guidance, click on the “Package” tab in the link, then click “Preview” and “Download Instructions”. For questions regarding the RRPD program, email RuralResidency@hrsa.gov.

HHS Launches COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), launched a new COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal, allowing health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing or provided treatment for uninsured COVID-19 individuals on or after February 4, 2020 to submit claims for reimbursement. Providers can access the portal at COVIDUninsuredClaim.HRSA.gov.

HHS Launches New COVID-19 Workforce Toolkit. On April 22, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) released a new toolkit to help state and local healthcare decision makers maximize workforce flexibilities when confronting COVID-19 in their communities. The toolkit contains a number of “Resource Collections” on topics that have been of particular interest to rural providers including scope of practice expansions, licensure, EMS resources, and volunteer workforce needs, among other workforce and training resources.

CDC: Reports to National Poison Data Center Related to COVID-19.  In its most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an increase in chemical exposures related to cleaners and disinfectants for the period January-March 2020.  Last week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced $5 million to support Poison Control Centers.

Information Requested: Crisis Staffing for Indian Health Service – May 6.  In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Indian Health Service seeks information on the availability and capability of qualified respondents for temporary staffing services for specialized medical support.  This is NOT a solicitation for proposals, proposal abstracts, or quotations.  Earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service provided an issues brief on COVID-19 and the Indian Health Service.

Comments Requested: CDC Data Collection for COVID-19 Response – June 16.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) seeks comments from the public on two modules being added to the National Healthcare Safety Network, which is used to track healthcare-associated infections.  The new modules will be used to capture the daily, aggregate impact of COVID-19 facilities and to monitor medical capacity to respond at local, state, and national levels. 

Comments Requested: Perspectives on Pain and Pain Management – June 16.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asks the public to provide feedback on pain and pain management, including but not limited to:  the benefits and harms of opioid use from patients with acute or chronic pain, patients’ family members and/or caregivers, and health care providers who care for patients with pain or conditions that can complicate pain management (e.g., opioid use disorder or overdose).  CDC will use these comments to inform its understanding of stakeholders’ values and preferences related to pain and pain management options.

CRS Report on Health Care Provisions in Coronavirus Response Act.  The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides an overview of the healthcare-related provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report focuses on coverage of COVID-19 testing and related items for individuals covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, Veterans healthcare, the IHS, and most private plans. The report also includes a discussion of changes to Medicare coverage of telehealth services.

COVID-19 Child Welfare and Related Health Resources.  The Children’s Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families provides resources for foster care providers and the child welfare workforce in response to the COVID-19 emergency.  The page includes a list of state and national resources.

COVID-19 Data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Updated regularly, the site provides access to demographic and economic data that may be useful in decision-making, including state and local data on at-risk populations, poverty, health insurance coverage, and employment.

USDA Food Program Resources.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is granting program flexibilities across 15 nutrition programs. 

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy FAQs for COVID-19.  A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our grantees and stakeholders, updated regularly. 

CDC COVID-19 Updates.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates and guidance. New this week is a set of guidelines for meat and poultry processing workers and employers.  CDC also does regular clinical calls for public health emergency response, called Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA).

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Counties.  The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis provides up-to-date data and maps on rural and urban confirmed cases throughout the United States.  An animated map shows the progression of cases beginning January 21.

Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019.  The Rural Health Information Hub has created a guide to help you learn about activities underway to address COVID-19.