Community hospitals across the country have been closing in recent years. Reasons given include system consolidations, rising costs of care, Medicare reimbursement issues, and changing models of health care delivery. Few hospital closures are welcomed by patients or employees, but those that take place in rural areas, where there may not be another hospital for many miles, often affect the local community with particular severity.
A double hit for local economies.
Not only do hospital closings in rural areas make access to health care a challenge, sometimes forcing local residents to drive many miles for care. But—as this month’s AJN Reports points out (“Will Rural Community Hospitals Survive?“)—rural hospital closings also have a ripple effect on a local economy, meaning lost jobs as well as lost revenue for ancillary businesses in the area.
Hospital that innovate may survive.
Despite current pressures, some rural hospitals are finding new ways to thrive. As the article describes in greater detail, hospital “survival strategies” include partnerships and “becoming increasingly creative with providing services,” including expanding the use of telehealth. […]