What happens when a hospital that’s essential to a community’s health and economic well-being closes? We may find out, according to a study by Navigant of 2,000 rural hospitals across the United States. The results show that 21% are at high risk of closing. To put it in plainer language: 430 hospitals across 43 states that employ 150,000 people could be shuttered.
Many factors have led to financial woes troubling these hospitals. Rural areas have low population growth, they’re hindered by fewer insurance options, and they lack the funding to leverage technology.
According to the study, one solution to the issue is collaboration with academic and regional health systems. The rural hospitals can utilize the resources—telehealth, staffing, electronic health records, and clinician training—of these larger systems. The study also supports telehealth reimbursement. The Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act, for example, would create a new Medicare classification allowing rural hospitals to offer emergency and outpatient services without inpatient beds.