New panel attempts to aid rural hospitals

Legislators and healthcare professionals have formed a panel to address the challenges of rural hospitals in Georgia.

This blog has previously addressed some of the pervasive issues that rural hospitals face in their mission to provide quality patient care. With a shortage of both primary care physicians and federal funding, these care facilities are commonly the only source of medical attention for thousands of residents within 30 to 50 miles. 

In Georgia, the situation has become so dire that Governor Deal appointed a new Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee tasked with identifying the needs of rural facilities and offering potential solutions, according to the Augusta Chronicle. 

Members of the committee include healthcare professionals, physicians and state legislators. "The task is not going to be an easy one,'' Rep. Terry England, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and a member of the new committee told the Chronicle. "We're open to a lot of different ideas and solutions."

The setting and current conditions of these facilities involve a host of challenges that require new and innovative problem-solving strategies. For example, many residents, especially the elderly or infirm,  do not own adequate transportation to safely deliver themselves to care facilities, and there is no budget for expanding ambulatory care services.

The current environment for rural hospitals in the state is unsustainable, and quick action by the committee needs to take place to ensure that thousands of Americans are not left without access to medical care. The committee has already gained approval to convert many newly closed hospitals into freestanding emergency departments, but the battle it far from over.

Facilities that are facing difficulty with medical claims management should consider outsourcing their medical accounts receivable to increase cash flow. This decision can often result in a sharp reduction in losses due to missed filing appeal deadlines.