Outside of the largest cities and some suburban hospitals where many health systems have formed, many patients in the United States receive care from smaller, rural institutions that offer challenges for patients and providers. According to the American Hospital Association, “Rural hospitals provide essential Healthcare services to nearly 57 million people.”

The number of people living in rural (non-metropolitan) counties declined by nearly 200,000 between 2010 and 2016, which is the first recorded period of rural population decline.

With government programs in constant danger of financial cost-saving spending cuts, rural healthcare providers are in crisis. According to the National Rural Hospital Association, “Currently one in three rural hospitals is in financial risk. At the current rate of closure, 25% of all rural hospitals will close within less than a decade.”

Adding to the unique problems of rural healthcare are the decreasing number of physicians, the growth of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), a lack of choices of private exchanges, and the opioid epidemic.

Takeaway: Rural healthcare providers and hospitals will need to develop patient Coverage options that will capture income lost by patient’s foregoing care as a result of high deductibles and an inability to pay upfront.  These rural hospitals will have to leverage new technology as they experience population loss. Technologies, such as telehealth and telemedicine, and consumer health wearables or smartphones, can enable rural-based care systems to consolidate specialty care services and increase revenue without adding or burdening staff.  CarePayUSA has the tools in place to manage these issues and increase revenue while improving patient care.