3 Strategies Rural Hospitals Can Use To Improve Their Revenue Cycle

  • Healthcare Management
  • medical management - Rural Hospitals
  • August 25, 2022

Rural hospitals can improve revenue cycles by providing alternative payment methods and offering workforce training.

Improving Your Rural Hospital

Alack of physician coverage, patient access, and lagging profit margins create a diverse set of barriers for hospitals in rural areas. While rates of telehealth continue to rise across the country, access to healthcare in remote parts of the US remains a unique challenge. Over the past 20 years, mortality rates between rural and urban communities have widened to 18%. Rural hospitals can help bridge the gap by providing alternative payment methods, prioritizing workforce training, and providing health literacy resources. While revenue cycles can be a source of tension for many small care centers, a multifaceted approach can keep a hospital’s bottom line on the up-and-up.

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1. Provide multiple payment options

A recent study notes that rural residents go without insurance at higher rates than urban populations. Rural households with infants experienced a disparity of health coverage, reporting even lower counts of insurance coverage than other rural residents. As a result, many rural communities encounter a limited supply of low-cost or pro bono healthcare resources. An increased capacity for Medicare and Medicaid payments promotes access to healthcare by offering patients affordable care. With additional financial options such as government assistance programs, care centers can create a payment strategy individualized to the patient.

2. Train your workforce

Without readily available primary care, many patients cannot access vital healthcare resources. Approximately 60% of physician shortages happen in rural areas. Insufficient personnel puts pressure on existing healthcare staff, exacerbating worker shortages and threatening a hospital’s revenue cycle. While recruiting additional healthcare members, workforce training can support current employees. Using alternative providers, working in interprofessional teams, and offering clinic time outside of regular work hours are all strategies that save time and resources.

3. Stay in the know

Without a foundation of medical knowledge, many patients choose to go without medical care. People with low levels of health literacy are at a higher risk of going without medical care. The individual ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions determines a patient’s overall level of care. Without health literacy, patients can lack the information to make decisions. Flyers, pamphlets, and other educational materials can help bridge the gap in understanding throughout the community. Ensuring patient compliance is vital when addressing knowledge gaps found in remote communities. Small hospitals can foster trust by promoting the importance of healthcare information throughout the community. Accessible resources such as free classes, contraception, and leaflets allow individual patients both privacy and information.

Care for all

Small hospitals face unique barriers to providing care. However, a few key strategies empower greater patient access and a better bottom line. Combating physician shortages, providing low-cost care options, and prioritizing patient education all help small hospitals better support the community.

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