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Rural Hospitals – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Effective Examples

Franklin Cardiovascular Health Program (FCHP)
Updated/reviewed February 2020
  • Need: To develop sustainable, community-wide prevention methods for cardiovascular diseases in order to change behaviors and healthcare outcomes in rural Maine.
  • Intervention: Local community groups and Franklin Memorial Hospital staff studied mortality and hospitalization rates for 40 years in this rural, low-income area of Farmington to seek intervention methods that could address cardiovascular diseases.
  • Results: A decline in cardiovascular-related mortality rates and improved prevention methods for hypertension, high cholesterol, and smoking.
Patient Care Connect
Updated/reviewed December 2017
  • Need: Cancer patients living in the Deep South encounter multiple barriers in accessing regular cancer treatment.
  • Intervention: The University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center developed a program that uses lay patient navigators to support and direct patients to appropriate resources to overcome barriers to accessing care.
  • Results: The program has become a model for improving cancer care quality, decreasing unnecessary utilization (ER visits and hospitalizations), removing barriers to care, and enhancing patient satisfaction.

Other Project Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Community Care Partnership of Maine Accountable Care Organization
Updated/reviewed February 2020
  • Need: To increase access and quality of care for Medicare, Medicaid, uninsured, and commercial patients in rural Maine.
  • Intervention: Hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers in Maine formed the Community Care Partnership of Maine Accountable Care Organization (CCPM ACO).
  • Results: CCPM serves about 100,000 patients in Maine. In addition, it implemented ACO shared savings plans with Maine Medicaid, Medicare, and five commercial health insurance and Medicare Advantage plans in the state.
Leadership Development Program
Updated/reviewed February 2020
  • Need: Reasonably-priced leadership education was needed for professional development of healthcare organization managers in southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming.
  • Intervention: Creation of a health network providing leadership training opportunities for member hospitals.
  • Results: Increased leadership and managerial quality, and decreased professional development costs for rural hospitals of southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration University of Mississippi Medical Center's Center for Telehealth
Updated/reviewed January 2020
  • Need: Rural areas in Mississippi often lack adequate access to specialty healthcare services such as emergency medicine, stroke neurology, pediatric specialists and psychiatrists.
  • Intervention: The University of Mississippi Medical Center created the Center for Telehealth to deliver quality specialty services through telehealth video conferencing and remote monitoring tools to the underserved areas of Mississippi.
  • Results: The program has been successfully implemented throughout many of the state's rural hospitals and has reduced transfers and geographic barriers for patients.
The Hospital Cooperative Charge Comparative
Updated/reviewed August 2019
  • Need: To help hospitals in rural Idaho and Wyoming see how their prices compare to others in the region.
  • Intervention: The Hospital Cooperative (THC) completes an annual charge comparative, which lists the highest, lowest, average, and median price for a specific charge.
  • Results: THC has offered these reports since 2010.
The Hospital Cooperative Mobile MRI
Updated/reviewed August 2019
  • Need: Critical Access Hospitals in Idaho were not able to afford a fixed MRI system.
  • Intervention: The hospitals partnered to purchase a mobile MRI unit to travel among facilities.
  • Results: The MRI unit went into service in 2012, providing hundreds of scans per month and traveling among six member hospitals in rural Idaho.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Utah Rural Independent Hospital Network
Updated/reviewed April 2019
  • 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.
Piedmont Mountainside Hospital's Freestanding Emergency Department
Updated/reviewed December 2018
  • Need: The North Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) of Ellijay, Georgia had been slowly losing money and patients for years. Many residents living in Ellijay were seeking hospital care elsewhere, leaving NGMC treating an average of only 6 patients per day in the year prior to closing their doors in 2016.
  • Intervention: With approval from the state, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital (PMH) leased the space from NGMC and opened the state's first freestanding emergency department (ED). Medical services were again made available for patients in Ellijay and surrounding areas.
  • Results: After one year of being open, the freestanding ED continues to average 30 patients per day and has reached over 11,000 emergency room visits.
Western Healthcare Alliance Laboratory Services Network
Updated/reviewed December 2018
  • Need: Increased efficiency for medical laboratory testing in rural western Colorado and Utah hospitals.
  • Intervention: Creation of a network for education, operational consulting, best practice development, and group contracting with discounted services for hospital laboratories.
  • Results: Lower laboratory testing costs with improved quality, efficiency, and turnaround times leading to increased healthcare quality.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Plymouth Area Transitions Team (PATT)
Updated/reviewed December 2017
  • Need: Prepare medically complex patients for care needs after hospital discharge.
  • Intervention: A program focused on hospital discharges and care transitions for patients located in three New Hampshire counties
  • Results: Decreased high-risk patient readmissions and establishment of continuous care coordination focus.

Last Updated: 2/27/2020