The rural healthcare infrastructure which serves 15 percent of the country’s population has been showing signs of ill-health lately. According to USA Today, since 2010 more than forty rural hospitals have shut their doors and the rest are under enormous pressure. For millions of Americans, especially Medicare patients such institutions are often the only source of healthcare.
Though it is said that all the hospitals have been affected by the changing regulations and are vulnerable to external factors, the rural hospitals take the hardest blow. Here are the major challenges faced by rural hospitals:
The rural population is in most cases poorer and may be living with the help of federal or state support. Minority communities in rural areas are more likely to be categorized as below poverty level. The rural population is also likely to be uninsured. This financial disposition also indirectly affects rural hospitals as the institutions are less flexible to change.
The US Department of Health and Human Services in its 2012 report states that patient-to-primary care physician ratio in rural areas is only 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people, compared to 53.3 physicians per 100,000 in urban areas. This uneven distribution of healthcare providers leaves rural population more vulnerable.
Change in Healthcare Reimbursement Rules and New Regulations:
Change in reimbursement methodology has led to an overall reduction in reimbursement. Though this affects all hospitals alike, rural hospitals are more affected by the loss of revenue. In the recent years, hospitals are also required to abide by some healthcare IT innovations such as EMR implementation which is often too costly to implement for a cash short rural hospital.
A rural hospital can do the following to help themselves stop the trend from the current state and how HealthViewX Referral Management Solution can help them in recovering.
Better Management – Hospitals need to be managed according to their current revenue and resource constraints. This may include restructuring the organization to make it smaller and agiler. HealthViewX Referral Management Solution gives valid insights into the referral practices of a hospital. This could help in better prioritizing the practice goals and actions to the common medical requirements of the community they serve.
Join Hands With Other Health Systems – Rural hospitals can join forces with a larger organization in their region which will give them access to a larger market and better resources. Having a referral solution in place will help the user identify and track the process-follow of each referral. This will allow the hospitals to understand where the referrals are actually going and identify the actual number of referrals that end up in the network and the number that ends up outside the network.
Embrace Innovation – The changing regulations which aim to boost the use of healthcare IT in hospitals is only going to intensify. Many such software and solutions are expensive for a rural hospital and it is a challenge to find the right solution within the allocated budget and exceed patient experience at the same time.
HealthViewX Referral Management Solution is a web-based, multi-channel referral management platform. Providers can send and receive a referral, share patient related information and track referral progress through one window making the workflow seamless and effortless.