Innovative Alignment Options for Rural Hospitals
- May 11, 2020
Rural hospitals serve a unique population. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA) 2019 Rural Report, approximately 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas and tend to be more disadvantaged, older, sicker, and poorer than the national averages. Because of this, rural hospitals face a challenging patient and payer mix, with the most significant payers typically being Medicare and Medicaid. As the healthcare landscape keeps changing, new challenges arise at rural hospitals adding to the existing challenges they already face. Per the AHA 2019 Rural Report, these challenges include access to technology, staff recruitment and retention, and increased operational costs. Further, the shift to value-based reimbursement is adding increased pressure to hospitals that are already struggling.
From a patient perspective, one of the primary reasons patients in rural communities do not seek medical care is because of the distance of healthcare facilities from patients’ homes and the limited transportation options available. Various forms of alignment can address or partially mitigate these challenges, as we discuss in this article.