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Tuesday June 18, 2024

MEDHOST Q&A: Blue Ridge Medical Center’s Transition to Rural Emergency Hospital

In 2023, Blue Ridge Medical Center transitioned to a Rural Emergency Hospital (REH). This change proved instrumental in addressing the healthcare needs of its community, but there are still many unknowns about this new provider type.

To get the whole story, our Strategic Sales Director sat down with Bappa Mukherji, CEO of Java Medical Group (which owns Blue Ridge Medical Center), to discuss the hospital’s transformation.

MEDHOST: Thanks for joining us, Bappa. To start, could you explain what a Rural Emergency Hospital is and why it’s important?

Bappa Mukherji: Certainly. An REH is a new provider type established under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. It helps community hospitals, especially those in rural areas like ours, maintain critical healthcare services. The financial incentives, including increased Medicare reimbursements and Additional Facility Payments, make it a viable option for those struggling to sustain operations.

MEDHOST: What were some of the challenges Blue Ridge Medical Center faced during this transition?

Bappa Mukherji: The biggest challenge was navigating the unknowns. Regulations, reimbursement strategies, and operational dynamics of this new designation weren't clear. Plus, changing community perception was crucial since transitioning to an REH meant eliminating inpatient beds, which led some people to think we were closing our doors for good.

MEDHOST: How did you address these challenges?

Bappa Mukherji: We focused on strategic communication and flexibility. It was essential to have open discussions with our staff and the community to address misconceptions and explain the benefits of transitioning to an REH.

MEDHOST: Can you tell us about the role MEDHOST played in this process?

Bappa Mukherji: Sure. MEDHOST was instrumental. Their tailored solutions, including application management and clinical informatics, helped us operate efficiently as an REH. Their expertise in healthcare technology and understanding of rural healthcare challenges made them an ideal partner in this scenario.

MEDHOST: What have been some of the outcomes of this transition?

Bappa Mukherji: We've seen financial improvement, enhanced emergency services, and stronger community collaboration. For instance, we introduced telemedicine services and discussions for additional specialist services.

MEDHOST: Before we wrap up, what's your vision for the future of rural healthcare, particularly with the REH designation?

Bappa Mukherji: The REH designation is a step forward in addressing rural healthcare needs. But for it to ensure communities like ours get the care they deserve, there will need to be creativity, collaboration, and robust advocacy within the industry.

For more information about the REH transition process and how MEDHOST supports hospitals like Blue Ridge Medical Center, contact your Customer Success Executive.


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