Rural America is home to more than 60 million people, many of whom lack easy access to healthcare and tend to be at a higher risk for poor health outcomes than those living in more concentrated areas.
While rural providers work tirelessly to address health disparities among these underserved communities, they face an uphill battle. Outdated transportation infrastructure and labor shortages are compounded by dwindling revenue, while social factors such as rising death rates, widespread opioid misuse, and a high proportion of uninsured patients strain already overburdened resources.
This is a battle that community and critical access facilities are losing. Since January 2013, nearly 100 rural hospitals have been forced to close their doors forever.
In this blog, we’ll cover the current healthcare landscape as seen through the lens of a rural healthcare provider and touch on key strategies that hospitals can adopt, right now, to continue providing for the friends, family, and neighbors that make up the communities they serve.
New market-driven strategies supported by technological advances will be necessary for the long-term sustainability of rural hospitals.
In order to keep their doors open, these facilities must start focusing on the following strategies for continued success:
Customer relationship management (CRM), social media, online portals, and mobile applications, which are more targeted and economical than conventional advertising or community outreach, will increasingly be the driving forces behind the growth initiatives of rural providers.
Due to the higher likelihood of Medicare or Medicaid coverage for rural populations, funding for rural hospitals is dependent on meeting performance and quality benchmarks. Hospitals can better monitor and enhance patient outcomes by utilizing affordable mobile technologies and subscriptions to analytics-as-a-service.
A dependable healthcare IT partner can support institutions in expanding digital strategies to continuously engage with customers, develop a brand, and maintain compliance.
While the pandemic encouraged legislation that has helped rural hospitals bridge the patient-provider divide, such as increased flexibility related to telehealth, ongoing issues related to connectivity and recruitment put these technological innovations out of reach for many providers.
Rural hospitals should consider features and functionality specifically configured for smaller hospitals when evaluating HIT solutions. By selecting market-appropriate solutions, these providers can improve ROI and lessen the chance of cost overruns and other interruptions, which can occur when overly complicated systems are put into place without sufficient support.
Another option to lower the cost of ownership for health IT is through hosted solutions. Hospitals can host clinical and financial data through a technology partner, saving upfront hardware costs and decreasing the need for internal IT maintenance.
Interoperability, or the secure and easy exchange of electronic health information (EHI), is essential to providing value-based care, and remaining compliant, in the digital age.
While costs, staffing constraints, and on-site space restrictions may complicate deploying and maintaining EHR technology, hospitals that fail to achieve sufficient interoperability will be unable to comply with Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) price transparency rules.
Read more about the financial benefits of achieving interoperability and the opportunity price transparency represents for rural hospitals in our recent blog.
Despite a rapidly changing healthcare landscape, rural hospitals stay rooted in their communities by adopting market-driven technological solutions.
As a proud partner of our nation’s rural health providers, MEDHOST can provide the right products, at the right price, to help these facilities provide quality patient care and maintain a healthy business.
To learn more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or dial 1.800.383.6278.