Posted on June 4, 2013
With Medicare sequestration cuts looming, rural hospitals are
being billed as the underdogs in a battle of volume vs. value.
That leaves your CAH with three choices. You can throw in the
towel. Take a duck-and-cover stance. Or become leaner and greener
($) - now - so you're ready to go the distance.
It will take some calculated moves to position your CAH for
success under values-based payment. But the good news is that you
have options. Lots of them. For starters, consider these
- Establish a readmissions committee. Charge the
committee with monitoring and reducing readmission rates along with
establishing post-discharge follow-up protocols. Reducing
readmissions to enhance quality of care can help avoid financial
losses under CMS's new payment structure.
- Develop new financial models and plans that
account for potential reduced revenues. This
includes loss of critical access and sole provider funding.
- Form telehealth partnerships for specialty
services. Also consider offering nonlocal physicians and
specialists admitting privileges (i.e., allow them to see patients
at your facility when they are in town).
- Network with larger health systems in the
area. This can provide access to more specialists and allow CAHs to
participate in a broader continuum of care and be better positioned
for value-based payment.
While the challenges faced by rural hospitals are like none
we've ever seen before, remember that change brings opportunity.
And now's the time to commit to be fit, to stay in the
What's your game plan?
Posted on June 11, 2013
OK, so your rural hospital has a website. But what have you done
with it lately?
With healthcare reform staring us straight in the eyes, this is
no time to go "site unseen." And if you're not expanding your
web capabilities, you're not getting the exposure you need to grow
volume and revenue.
Think of it this way …
Your website gives you a chance to look as big as the "big
dogs," as technically advanced as your big-city competitors and as
committed to consumers' health and satisfaction as you say you are.
That can get consumers to visit your website. It can turn those
visitors into patients, which can ultimately lead to increased
revenue for your hospital.
Take a long hard look at your website. How can you leverage it
to empower patients and improve their experience? Think about:
- Online bill pay.
- Online preregistration.
- Tools to obtain quality data and price information.
- Ability to update insurance information online.
- Personal health management tools to:
- Help patients track medical expenses.
- Review their medical history.
- Set and monitor health goals.
- Virtual tours of your hospital.
- Online job posting/applications.
- Patient loyalty program.
We've helped our clients incorporate these and other
enhancements into their sites. And they're proving to be well worth
Many of our clients have found that consumers who use their
online resources are return users. That means the tools on their
websites are providing a positive experience for patients, which,
in the end, leads to increased patient satisfaction and
I'm willing to venture that's a sight every rural
hospital would like to see this year.
Posted on June 26, 2013
As the healthcare industry continues its fast-paced journey
toward value-driven healthcare, it's time for rural hospitals to
take a closer look at who is - figuratively and literally - on
Recent studies indicate that many rural chairs and CEOs lack
full confidence in their board's ability to effectively conduct
oversight and governance functions. This is not - I repeat - NOT a
reflection of the competency of the board members themselves. So
why the lack of confidence?
According to a report by Healthcare Financial Management
Association (HFMA), rural hospitals need to address several factors
to get board members ready to lead the way into uncharted
healthcare reform territory. For example:
- Board membership requirements are often undefined and
orientation for new members is often lacking.
- Expectations need to be clearly communicated before
appointments are made.
- Orientation should be conducted for all new members to ensure
they fully understand their roles and their relationship to
hospital executives and staff.
- Well-defined job descriptions must be developed.
- Has your hospital put board members' responsibilities in
- If so, have those responsibilities changed or crept out of
scope since you developed the "job description?"
- Many boards lack Quality of Care/Patient Safety
- Increasing importance is being placed on quality of care, yet
many rural hospital boards lack committees that provide oversight
for this function. Boards may also lack context for reviewing
- Board meetings should be structured to allocate a substantial
amount of time to the review of quality and safety outcomes.
- Boards are not composed of the 'right' mix of
- It is imperative that boards include local community leaders
who can understand the complexities of the emerging payment
environment and make difficult decisions in light of this new
Just as it's time for rural hospitals to take an outside-the-box
approach to marketing, it's also time to think outside of the box
when recruiting board members.