May 26, 2015

Rural Healthcare Systems Are “Economic Anchors”

Although many rural communities have lost some of the energy of years past, their economy has yet to suffer, thanks to rural healthcare systems. According to a recent article in The New York Times (original article), hospitals have become “economic anchors” for these rural areas, forming a sort of “oases of economic stability across the nation’s heartland.”

In spite of the benefits rural hospitals bring to economic markets, rural healthcare systems face some pretty big challenges of their own.

Brock Slabach, a senior vice president for member services at the National Rural Health Association, recently spoke on these challenges for some hospitals in rural areas, saying, “It’s feast or famine.

And it certainly is. While successful hospitals are bringing in jobs and attracting new businesses, the unsuccessful hospitals are struggling simply to keep their doors open.

Another interesting thing to note on the economy of rural healthcare system is the role government support can play in keeping these systems alive. In some areas, if the hospital meets a certain set of standards and conditions, they can become beneficiaries, receiving better reimbursement rates as a result of federal programs and certifications.

Additionally, and not at all shocking, the most successful rural healthcare systems are those that offer the services their residents most need. For instance, in areas where the population consists of older individuals and retirees, more attention is being put into primary care, rheumatology programs, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

Many rural communities are also offering incentives to their newer staff members, allowing new doctors to qualify for home loans, in spite of student loan debt. This type of motivation will not only bring new physicians to rural areas, it will also encourage them to set their roots in the community and in the hospital.

As we mentioned in our April newsletter, we’ve recently partnered with colleague David Sniff, who specializes in rural healthcare markets. Stay tuned for more articles about rural healthcare, and for more information on rural healthcare as an economic anchor, read the original New York Times article. (original article)

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