Cloud-based services help small Idaho hospital return to profitability

Cloud-based network services have been key to Lost Rivers Medical Center's survival, CEO/Administrator Brad Huerta writes at Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review.

He joined Idaho-based hospital in the middle of its troubles--Lost Rivers was $3.5 million in debt, in bankruptcy and unable to make needed repairs and updates to its technology.

Yet the 14-bed facility serves an area close to the size of Rhode Island in a remote area where bears outnumber people. The next nearest hospital is an hour away. Stabilizing the hospital financially was the first priority, Huerta says, but badly needed technology upgrades came second.

Small, financially strapped hospitals can’t look to major technology vendors for in-house IT that will take years to pay off and show ROI, he adds. Instead, nimble, cloud-based electronic health record systems and revenue management services offer more reasonable options for struggling organizations.

Lost Rivers' new network-based services provide system-wide integration, data sharing, expedited billing and streamlined referrals, Huerta says. It has reduced days in accounts receivable from 67 to 42--the industry average for hospitals of Lost Rivers' size is 52--and its claims denial rate also has fallen. It’s shown a profit for the past two years.

The push to value-based care will further press small hospitals to show efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and technology will be an integral part of that, Huerta says.

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