Utah Rural Independent Hospital Network
- Need: To help ensure the viability of and improve quality at 9 rural, independent hospitals serving 11 Utah counties.
- Intervention: A network organization was created to allow member hospitals to communicate, network, and undertake projects together.
- Results: Members take advantage of cost savings, education, and networking opportunities through group projects and programs.
Utah Rural Independent Hospital Network (doing business
as "Rural 9") was established to improve the quality
and viability of rural independent hospitals in Utah. The
network helps identify and prioritize shared needs
related to quality and financial stability, and then
implement projects to address those needs. In addition,
the network provides communication and networking
opportunities, currently at the CEO, CFO, CNO, HR, BO/HIM
and Quality Manager levels, to share common issues,
solutions, and best practices.
The network includes all 9 independent, rural hospitals
in the state, which serve the 7 counties in which they
are located as well as 4 adjacent counties without
hospitals. Eight of the network members are Critical
Access Hospitals. The CEO of each hospital serves as a
representative to the Network's board.
Non-member partners of the network include:
Initial development and implementation of the Network was
supported through a Rural Health Network Development
Planning Grant from the Federal Office of Rural Health
Policy. The network's work continues through member and
The Network's director is currently the Rural Hospital
Improvement Director at the Utah Hospital
Association and also assists with Utah's
Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex)
Coordinator responsibilities in the state. The FLEX
Program helps support the network director position via
contract with the Utah Hospital Association.
Network members work together on projects related to:
Education, such as department manager
training, board training, and revenue cycle and
regulatory compliance education
Purchased services, such as property
insurance, workers compensation, supply and maintenance
contracts, HCAHPS vendor services, regulatory
compliance assessment/support, and mobile MRI
Quality improvement, such as reporting
and quality improvement projects
Business functions, such as revenue
cycle improvement and staffing efficiency
The network collaborates with the following larger
systems to offer these specific services to members:
Members take advantage of cost savings, education, and
networking opportunities through group projects and
- Common equipment maintenance and service vendor
- Legal services retainer with a law firm, which
includes provision of legal education webinars for
- Common broker on property insurance
- Human Resource, CNO, BO/HIM, and CFO groups meet
regularly to network, collaborate, and share best
- Collaboration with the University of Utah, including
rural nurse job shadowing and training, workshop
provision, and more
- Department-level manager training
- Regular revenue cycle improvement and regulatory
- Compliance assessment and ongoing support
- Collaboration with the state's Flex Program
Some of the major accomplishments of the network to-date
- Creation of a legal entity, the Utah Rural
Independent Hospital Network, Inc. It operates through a
board, bylaws, a strategic plan, a sustainability plan
and membership dues.
- Ongoing network sustainability:
- Members pay a monthly fee of $1,000.
- Project vendors share savings with network
- Collaboration with larger systems in the state
provides high quality, low cost services.
In Utah, government-owned organizations are not allowed
to engage in projects that have the potential to generate
profit. Five of network's hospitals are city- or
county-owned. The network had planned for certain
initiatives, such as mobile MRI, to generate profit that
could fund other network initiatives. The solution, found
via consulting with a law firm, was for the network to be
a Utah Cooperative Non-Profit Corporation.
Another challenge was the relatively small number of
participating hospitals, as compared to networks in other
The network's participating hospitals have been in an
independent mindset for many years. This, at times, makes
it a challenge for them to contribute to the collective
achievement for all participating hospitals when there is
a not a significant gain for their individual hospital.
The biggest contributor to the success of the network has
been the commitment from partner organizations.
The members and partners involved have had long-standing
informal relationships that allow members to work
together to quickly accomplish their goals.
Another factor in the network's success are the
commonalities among member hospitals:
- Similar geographic areas
- Sole providers
- Common missions, visions, and purposes
- Independently owned and operated
March 7, 2014
Date updated or reviewed
April 25, 2019
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Utah Rural Independent Hospital Network [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 6 July 2022]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.