What Rural Health Facilities Need to Survive in 2018 and Beyond

by Baha Zeidan, Azalea Health CEO

Halfway through 2018, rural health facilities are seeing lots of new opportunities emerge within the larger national push toward value-based care.

But for most of these organizations, 2018 is also rife with challenges: Recent data published by the Chartis Center for Rural Health revealed 41 percent of rural hospitals faced negative operating margins this past year, stemming from specific states lack of Medicaid expansion, a lack of primary-care provider availability, and other factors. Another recent study, commissioned by 340B Health, reveals that while 340B DSH Hospitals represent only 38 percent of acute-care hospitals, they are still responsible for 60 percent of the nation’s uncompensated and unreimbursed care, to the tune of more than $26 billion.

If that weren’t enough, rural health organizations already treat a disproportionately higher number seniors and military veterans than their urban contemporaries. By all accounts, this trend will continue. And by 2050, the number of Americans age 55 and older is projected to reach 88.5 million, or double today’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

All of these high-level factors trickle down to patients and are correlated with an organization’s ability to serve them in the best way possible. The sooner rural health facilities can tackle their operational, clinical, and financial issues, the better off they’ll be long term….