When some think of revenue cycle management, they think of larger healthcare organizations with complex needs. But healthcare organizations of any size can benefit from revenue cycle assessments.
Yes, smaller hospitals can benefit from revenue cycle assessments and healthcare consulting. In fact, these assessments could have a greater proportional impact on smaller, rural hospitals.
Rural hospitals need help. In 2016, 41% of rural hospitals in the United States operated with negative margins. As populations age, this problem is getting worse – not better.
Today, we’re highlighting some of the ways that small, rural hospitals can benefit from a revenue cycle assessment.
Understand the Unique Challenges Facing Smaller, Rural Hospitals
The first and most important step is to understand the unique challenges smaller hospitals face. Smaller, rural hospitals face challenges that don’t exist with larger hospitals in big cities:
• 20% of the US population lives in rural regions, yet only 10% of physicians practice in rural regions, leading to a consistent physician shortage of smaller, rural hospitals
• Nearly half of all rural hospitals in the United States operate with negative margins
• Rural hospitals deal with different, more challenging patient demographics than larger hospitals in metro areas; rural areas tend to have older populations and higher rates of unemployment, creating problems for smaller hospitals seeking to optimize revenue cycles
• Hospitals in rural areas deal with more challenging patients than hospitals in urban areas; there are more patients over 65, higher rates of childhood poverty and premature death, and increased childhood mortality rates, among many other issues
Smaller, rural hospitals cannot change these factors: they’re inescapable parts of rural life in many parts of the United States. Instead of complaining about these challenges, good rural hospitals have learned to surmount these challenges by optimizing revenue cycles.