Building the Blueprint for Rural’s Future

December 16, 2014
iVantage Health

By Michael Topchik, Senior Vice President, iVantage Health Analytics

The challenges and uncertainty surrounding rural healthcare are well-documented. And having participated at various events this year – from the Rural Health Policy Institute to the NRHA and NOSORH annual conferences and many regional events – I am excited to see that there’s a real sense of collaboration and commitment to solving these complex issues.

National Rural Health DayNOSORH Award Logo provides us with an opportunity to turn the spotlight onto those hospitals helping to lead the way. Make no mistake, rural hospitals are delivering value – in some cases even outpacing their urban counterparts.

Our Rural Relevance study published earlier this year revealed that in categories such as QualityPatient SafetyOutcomes, and Patient Satisfaction rural and urban facilities are on equal footing. But when it comes to Price and Time in the ED, for example, rural hospitals are performing better than urban. Our research also showed that critical access hospitals charge 63% less than non-CAHs on a per-case rate. That equates to a potential savings (if non-CAHs charged at the CAH rate) of $207 billion.

But the 2014 Performance Leadership Awards are much more than an exercise in recognizing hospitals – it’s a statement of their reassurance to the communities they serve. Through their commitment to performance analysis and improvement, these hospitals have established what I consider to be a true blueprint for sustainability and one that serves as a model for other rural AND non-rural hospitals to follow.

As this marketplace continues to adapt, so to do the ways in which we are able to analyze and assess rural and critical access hospital performance. This past year the Hospital Strength INDEX has revealed significant and telling metrics about rural and I anticipate our understanding of how this market is performing – and which actions are required to ensure sustainability – will evolve in the new year.

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