Innovative Alignment Options for Rural Hospitals

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:

  • Management Agreements
  • Joint Ventures
  • Acquisition or Lease

Coker’s latest article, Innovative Alignment Options for Rural Hospitals, will explore ways to align outside of these traditional models that do not sacrifice total control. These evolving models embrace the services and resources available through a larger health system using the concept of a hub-and-spoke model.

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