A Solution For The Rural Community


From 2008 to 2015, the number of freestanding emergency rooms (FSERs) in the US increased by 76%. Initially, FSERs were created as a solution for providing healthcare services to rural communities. With low overhead and high patient satisfaction rates, these facilities continue to play a crucial role in rural healthcare.

Emergency Staffing Solutions Freestanding Emergency Rooms How FSERs Are Changing Rural Healthcare

What is an FSER?

FSERs were developed as a solution for rural communities. The model continues to be used when hospitals can no longer support the infrastructure of a full inpatient facility. Typically, these freestanding emergency rooms provide 24/7 emergency services, as well as imaging and on-site labs. Unlike a traditional hospital, these facilities do not have operating rooms or inpatient rooms. Patients who need an elevated level of care are often transferred to nearby facilities.

Two ER versions

There are two critical distinctions in FSERs. One type of freestanding emergency department (ED) operates under the umbrella of an affiliate hospital. The other type is run independently by a group or partnership and has no specific hospital affiliation. These facilities are not urgent care centers but typically can provide the same services as an emergency room at a hospital.

Concerns for rural communities

The cost of healthcare continues to be a concern in rural communities. Rural hospitals are often a population’s only option for healthcare services. However, these hospitals can struggle to meet budget requirements. These cost challenges are related to patient volume, the variation of services offered, and recruitment and staffing challenges.

The impact of FSERs

Some new models of freestanding emergency rooms are financially sustainable. Many communities find significant benefits from also offering a range of outpatient services at the FSER, such as primary care, cardiology, and laboratory draw sites. This model can help keep operating costs lower while providing enough value to the community to bring in enough patient volume.

Additional benefits

In hospitals emergency rooms, 10-40% of patients come to the facility by ambulance. In freestanding emergency rooms, over 90% of patients come as walk-ins. These facilities also have high rates of patient satisfaction and low readmission rates. FSERs provide treatment for critical, time-sensitive conditions like heart attacks and strokes.

Changing rural healthcare

With many small hospitals struggling to stay open, healthcare professionals need to figure out how to keep rural hospitals cost-efficient. Creating a freestanding ER may be the solution. This model can help to lower costs while still offering quality healthcare services to communities in need.