Saving Rural HealthcareRead Time: 4 minutes
Almost 20% of the US population resides in rural areas. In many of these communities, the only access to healthcare is the local hospital. However, rural hospitals often struggle to meet budgets and stay open. In urban areas, on average, there are 53.3 primary care physicians per 100,000 patients. In rural communities, this average drops to 39.8 physicians per 100,000 patients. One of the ways that small hospitals can better achieve economies of scale is to maximize reimbursement in the emergency department (ED).
What does maximizing reimbursement mean?
In recent years, the healthcare industry has been shifting from fee-for-service to value-based models of payment. This means that healthcare providers can struggle to keep up with the regulations that ensure maximum reimbursement. Particularly in small hospitals where workforces are often leaner, staying on top of new policies can be a challenge.
In the emergency department, one of the best ways to improve efficiency and increase employee retention is through using hospitalists. These healthcare providers are specially trained to care for patients who are admitted to the hospital. Hospitalists act as a point-of-contact for patients and families and are responsible for coordinating care among specialists. Hospitalists have been shown to reduce strain on primary care providers and increase patient satisfaction. Overall, this can lead to improvements in retention and lowered costs.
Remote case management
Remote case management in the emergency room can be highly effective for rural hospitals. Some even say that telecase management can be a strategy for saving the small hospital. Facilities can use remote case management to help with emergency room admissions after hours. These remote call centers help to lower costs, improve patient satisfaction, and reduce inefficiencies.
When emergency departments are working with a lean staff, reducing inappropriate admissions is more critical than ever. Appropriate admissions help to reduce costs and maximize reimbursements. Ensuring that all the necessary information is recorded up-front makes a significant difference in hospitals getting maximum reimbursement. Inaccurate processes create a snowball effect that leads to revenue gaps and insurance problems.
Continuing to offer care
Maximizing reimbursement needs to be an all-staff effort. There are strategies that hospitals can employ to help reduce inefficiencies and lower costs. Some of the most prominent of these including hiring hospitalists, utilizing telecase management, and improving appropriate admissions. When rural hospitals can improve efficiency and meet the budget, these healthcare facilities can continue offering care to the community.