When 8 percent of an industry's players close, it's never a good sign. And that's the kind of contraction rural hospitals went through between 1990 and 2000, with 208 facilities being shuttered. While some rural hospitals are getting by through sophisticated use of information technology and aggressive staff recruitment, many others are just running out of money. These hospitals are struggling, in part, because their patients are more likely to live below the federal poverty line than urban residents. What's more, these facilities handle a different case mix, with, for example, much higher hypertension and suicide rates, as well markedly higher rates of accident deaths. To compete, experts say, these hospitals need to recruit aggressively--particularly when it comes to finding surgeons--and make sure they have well-established transfer agreements in place with larger hospitals.
To learn more about rural hospital issues:
- read this United Press International article