'Micro-hospital' model could help underserved populations

“Micro-hospitals,” which offer full hospital services with the convenience and accessibility of urgent care clinics, are generating considerable buzz in a healthcare market that rewards these characteristics, but at least one company’s plans for more remain shrouded in secrecy.

While experts have said the model would be ill-suited to rural environments, proponents of micro-hospitals have high hopes about their potential to increase care access for underserved patients, according to Kaiser Health News. "Right now they seem to be popping up in large urban and suburban metro areas," Priya Bathija, senior associate director for policy development at the American Hospital Association, told KHN, but "we really think they have the potential to help in vulnerable communities that have a lack of access."

The model has been compared to standalone emergency rooms, which critics have said primarily improve care access and convenience for a wealthier patient population. But the micro-hospital model has even more potential to improve care access for underserved patients due to its inpatient beds and, in many cases, other services such as labor/delivery rooms and surgical suites. They can also benefit higher-risk patients by connecting them with specialty or primary care networks, according to the article.

Micro-hospitals are currently concentrated in Texas, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona, but the Texas-based Embree Group has recently announced four in the Indianapolis are, according to USA Today. The real estate company is remaining cagey about the details of the project, according to the article, and although numerous micro-hospitals partner with area systems, none of the major Indianapolis health systems are involved. The number of beds at the planned facilities range from four to 15 beds, according to the article.

- here’s the KHN article
- read the USA Today article