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The Biggest Threat to Rural Healthcare: Primary Care Outmigration

Important recent analysis just released from #NCRHRP’s Drs. #GeorgePink and #MarkHolmes on financial impact of COVID-19 shows decreasing rural hospital margins since 2011 and a 24% increase in hospitals which are unprofitable. Volumes continue to drop.

Are you curious about what these trends portend for the next 10 years? I have spoken to 125 CEO's of rural hospital without a health system affiliation over the last 3 months. I don’t believe the trends in profitability or volume decreases are going to change unless CEOs address the #1 threat to every rural hospital's long-term survival – primary care outmigration.

We have been conducting outmigration studies on rural hospital’s loss of primary care in the last quarter. The results were stunning. Over the last 7 years, every hospital we studied had lost a minimum of 60% of their primary care to their competitors. ¾ had lost more than 75% and the largest loss was 90%. Large for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals are successfully competing for rural hospital care through increased brand awareness, changing local MD referral patterns, visiting urban specialists, rural hospital transfers to accepting facilities being kept in their own network for follow-up care, and a community’s perceived lack of access to local hospital clinic services.

Forget growth. Most of the CEOs are just trying to slow the loss of a declining rural patient population that only continues to get older. The proposed solutions for rural hospital growth that I hear only nibble around the edges – advertising campaign, new buildings, adding a sleep clinic or an MRI, getting an orthopedist to do surgeries 1 day/week, replacing a retiring Family Medicine doc, or creating provider clinic work standards.

But these solutions are not enough. CEOs need to have compelling growth strategies to rapidly reverse the long-term loss of patients from their communities. Looking out 10 years, the future of their local community healthcare is literally at stake.

Rural Health Solutions only works with unaffiliated rural hospitals and our focus is rapidly reversing these outmigration patient losses. Our integrated re-migration strategies work in any rural hospital with a hospital-owned clinic. And the results are predictable. Clients start seeing revenue and volume increases within 3 months of starting our outpatient re-migration initiatives. And we go at risk for results.

We believe that local care is the best care when rural hospitals can deliver equivalent outcomes to their urban competitors. Contact us for more information on how Rural Health Solutions can help you develop your rural hospital growth plan with an offensive strategy that lets you start fighting back against the big guys . After all, besides your patients, what do you have to lose?

For More Updates About the Evolution of Rural Health , Follow Us at Rural Health Solutions.

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