Electronic Health Records (EHR) were implemented for several reasons, one of them being the reduction of healthcare costs. Have EHRs reduced costs? Have EHRs reduced costs in rural hospitals? If you would like to know the answer to those questions and more, listen to our conversation with Claudia Rhoades, a 3rd Year Doctoral Student and Dr. Brian Whitacre, Professor and Extension Economist in Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University.
“I was surprised to find such a different appreciation between EHR in hospital costs for urban and rural hospitals.”
~ Claudia Rhoades
Claudia Rhoades is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University. Claudia has a B.A. in International Relations from Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico and an M.S. in International Studies from Oklahoma State University. Claudia’s main area of interest is economic and rural development. She is passionate about education, and poverty alleviation.
Brian Whitacre is a Professor and Jean & Patsy Neustadt Chair in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University. Brian’s main area of interest is rural economic development, with a focus on the role that technology can play. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, with most exploring the relationship between Internet access and rural development. He has developed innovative outreach programs that help small towns benefit from the Internet. Brian has won regional and national awards for his research, teaching, and extension programs.
The new administration created the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and handpicked Dr. Tim Putnam to be a part of that team. Why? Because he has an incredible amount of experience as a healthcare leader, particularly rural health! Tim is not only the CEO of Margaret Mary Health, a Critical Access Hospital in Indiana, he is also Past-President of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), an American College of Healthcare Executive Fellow, and involved in many other healthcare organizations and initiatives. One of those initiatives is the creation of the NRHA Rural Hospital CEO Certification Program.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t learn in your master’s program or an academic medical center on how to make it work in a rural community.”
Tim Putnam is President and CEO of Margaret Mary Health in Batesville, Indiana, and has over 30 years of healthcare experience. He received his Doctorate in Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina where his dissertation was focused on acute stroke care in rural hospitals. In 2015, Dr. Putnam was certified as an Emergency Medical Technician and serves on the Batesville Fire and EMS Lifesquad.
Rural hospitals have many challenges, and the Center for Optimizing Rural Health (CORH) was created to help overcome those challenges. Housed within the Rural & Community Health Institute at Texas A&M University, CORH works with the rural facilities, their providers and their communities to improve the quality of care, maintain access to care and address the challenges unique to small hospitals and the towns they serve. We’re having this conversation with Bree Watzak, a true rural health leader who wears many hats. Bree is the Director of Rural Access Programs, Director of Technical Assistance (CORH), and Patient Safety Organization (PSO #79) Pharmacist.
“The themes we are seeing in the Bright Spots are leadership, culture and upstream thinking.”
Bree Watzak has been a pharmacist since 2008, she joined the Texas A&M Health Science Center in 2011. She is a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist and a TeamSTEPPS master trainer. Bree received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Houston and completed residency training at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Bree is the pharmacist on the PSO #79 team, listed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
As Director of Technical Assistance for the Center for Optimizing Rural Health, Bree spends her time working with rural communities to improve the quality of care, maintain access to care, and address the challenges unique to rural hospitals and the communities they serve. Bree was a 2020 Rural Health Fellows with the National Rural Health Association and currently serves as a Research and Education Constituency Group Representative on the Rural Health Congress.
You can learn more about CORH by clicking here.
After serving rural hospitals and clinics in rural Illinois for years, Pat Schou became the President of the National Rural Health Association right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. All those plans for conferences and presentations changed dramatically while the needs for rural health providers dramatically changed too. In this episode of Rural Health Leadership Radio, Pat provides her perspective on the current state of affairs in rural healthcare.
“We are really better together!”
Pat Schou is the Executive Director of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), the first state-wide critical access hospital network established in 2003. ICAHN is comprised of 57 CAH and rural hospitals, which is providing a number of hospital support services and educational programs, as well as managing the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant, Small Hospital Improvement Program, and several other grant programs on behalf of the IL Department of Public Health and other organizations.
In addition, Pat is the Executive Director of the IL Rural Community Care Organization (IRCCO), a statewide rural accountable care organization comprising 25 critical access and rural hospitals. Pat has more than 35 years of clinical and rural hospital administrative experience and past president of the National Rural Health Association. Pat serves on the Board for the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program, National Rural Resource Center Board, and Partners for Connected IL Board. She is also a fellow member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is a national speaker and facilitator.
You can learn more about ICAHN by clicking here.