Just How Well Do Rural Hospitals Perform in the New Healthcare?
Michael Topchik, Vice President
The results may surprise you.
Misconceptions – if voiced long and loudly enough – will over time be interpreted as fact. And facts are what drive decisions, whether in the boardroom or on Capitol Hill. For some time now, rural and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) have been saddled with the notion that they are less efficient and adhere to lower standards of quality and patient satisfaction than their urban counterparts. But based on the results of our 2014 Rural Relevance Under Healthcare Reform Study released today, this notion can be challenged with empirical data.
Whenever I work with an executive at a hospital, I always make a point to say “the data speaks for itself,” but often, I then hear, “but what do you make of it”? There’s no doubt that we are drowning in data, when what we need is information. With the release of this year’s Rural Relevance Study the headline is clear: Critical Access Hospitals, in key areas such as quality, safety, outcomes and patient satisfaction, are matching urban hospitals or setting new benchmarks for the industry.
In fact, when it comes to charges, Critical Access Hospitals are actually outperforming urban facilities. This is particularly noteworthy when major media outlets such as Time magazine, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have been highly critical of the hospital industry for high and variable charges which do not appear to sync with the rest of our economy.
So, just how much value is rural delivering? Well, let’s go inside the Study for some specifics:
– Across 351 common DRGS, CAHs were 63% lower or $207 Billion less in charges.
– If the urban Medicare spend per beneficiary were the equivalent of the rural spend $6.8 billion could be saved.
– The total time rural patients spend in the ED is 56 minutes faster than in urban hospitals
All care is not equal and CAHs and urban facilities face challenges unique to their markets. But I believe the findings of the Rural Relevance Study will redefine how people perceive rural healthcare. This is a complex and rapidly evolving healthcare environment, and the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals are proof positive for just how successful rural hospitals can be in the new healthcare.