EHR 101: Technology for Rural Healthcare


Digitization has touched virtually every aspect of healthcare. And while devices become more innovative and software more intuitive, perhaps the most important advancement in modern digital healthcare is electronic health records (EHR).

While other medical technology generates the data to improve diagnosis and care, EHR platforms collect, maintain, and centralize patient data in one place, accessible to caregivers and patients alike. In the context of rural healthcare, a comprehensive EHR is game-changing technology for a higher standard of patient care.

Defining EHR

Electronic health records are a form of health information technology (HIT), and they function much as you might expect. Rather than putting pen to paper to create a physical chart for each patient, EHR platforms aggregate all patient information digitally, for a centralized, consistent record. Not only is patient data contained in one place, but it’s also historical, which creates a lifetime record of every crucial detail in a patient’s healthcare journey.

EHR is rapidly becoming the new healthcare standard for three key reasons: accessibility, consistency, and convenience. For providers, it’s easy to quickly input and update patient information or verify historical health data. For patients, there’s a level of consistency and comfort stemming from EHR-driven continuity of care.

On both sides of the healthcare equation, EHR platforms revolutionize both patient care and health information accessibility — particularly for rural patients.

EHR for enhancing rural care

There are well-known accessibility gaps between urban and rural healthcare. Rural patients often pay more, travel farther, or go without access to the same specialists, equipment, and resources as their urban counterparts. And while there are numerous socioeconomic reasons for these disparities, technology — especially EHR — has the potential to be a universal equalizer.

The features and benefits associated with EHR help to provide rural populations with higher standards of accessibility, consistency, and convenience. Key benefits include:

  • Cloud-based digital records for patients
  • Access to up-to-date records whenever and wherever they’re needed
  • Electronic transmission and integration of test results and diagnostic imaging
  • Direct access to providers through telehealth resources and tools
  • Confidential and secure patient access to personal health information
  • Automation and AI assistance to reduce medical transcription errors

These benefits, combined with seamless technology access via smartphone or computer, close many of the existing gaps for rural patients. EHR access brings patients closer to their providers and their own health information, facilitating a higher standard of care.

EHR for a higher standard of care

At its core, EHR is simple technology. Strip away the many features and integrated nuances of digital charts, and you’re left with something with which many people are already familiar: a collaborative platform. It’s this collaboration that enables a higher standard of care — especially in rural areas with persistent healthcare disparity.

In fact, EHR is downright revolutionary in terms of closing rural healthcare gaps. According to one clinical study, published at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Rural settings in the United States accentuate problems that can be addressed through international medical informatics policy makers and the implementation and evaluation of interoperable Health Information Technology (HIT) systems.”

Digital technology is revolutionizing healthcare across the board, and it’s raising the standards for patient care in the populations who need it most, including rural patients. From better access to records to easier communication between patients and staff, EHR is an equalizer for the healthcare experience.

For more information about the benefits of EHR in rural healthcare, visit