Healthcare News of Note: Struggling rural hospitals have option to become stand-alone EDs to receive more funding
- Rural hospitals that close inpatient beds and revamp as stand-alone emergency rooms may receive more funding under a proposal buried in the stimulus act signed late last year.
- Researchers found that Black patients admitted with COVID-19 were 11% more likely to die than their White counterparts after adjusting for patient and clinical characteristics.
- Five innovation executives shared their predictions about what to expect from the hospital room of the not-so-distant future.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.
1. Lifeline for rural hospitals with fewer than 50 beds: Apply for stand-alone ED title to receive more funding
A Becker’s Hospital CFO Report article on June 10 reported, “Rural hospitals that close inpatient beds and revamp as standalone emergency rooms may receive more funding under a proposal buried in the almost 6,000-page stimulus act signed late last year, Bloomberg reported June 10.
“The measure included in the act, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., calls for these rural hospitals to revamp their service offerings to obtain the rural emergency hospital designation. Hospitals that obtain this designation will receive more funding.
“Rural hospitals with fewer than 50 beds can apply for the designation, which takes effect in 2023.”
The June 10 article in Bloomberg reported, “On Thursday, [Grassley and Klobuchar] sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services asking the agency to prioritize implementation of a new Rural Emergency Hospital designation.
The measure “has garnered little attention so far. But it provides a potential lifeline for rural hospitals, which have struggled to stay afloat for years against declining and aging populations. It’s a bipartisan crisis, as the letter reflects, and both senators represent largely rural states.
“At issue are thousands of facilities that serve some of the nation’s most vulnerable patients. The new measure culminates years of effort to address a wave of rural hospital closings — more than 100 since 2013, according to the letter.”
2. Study finds Black patients die largely because of where they receive care
A June 21 article in Healthcare Dive reported, “Researchers found that Black patients admitted with COVID-19 were 11% more likely to die than their White counterparts after adjusting for patient and clinical characteristics, according to a recent study in JAMA Network Open.
“Black patients were more likely to die largely because of where they received care — at hospitals that performed worse than those that treated White patients, according to the study that analyzed more than 44,000 Medicare Advantage admissions to more than 1,180 hospitals across 41 states.
“The study highlights that where people live influences where they receive care, as many tend to seek care close to home. For many years, Black Americans were denied housing in some areas due to ‘redlining’ policies, or those meant to keep Black people out of certain neighborhoods, which led to segregation in cities and unequal access to resources.”
Article author Samantha Liss also wrote, “The study also ran simulations and found that if those same Black patients were admitted to the same hospitals as White patients, the health outcomes would be more equal.”
3. What to expect from the hospital room of the not-so-distant future
In a June 17 article in Becker’s Hospital Review, five hospital innovation executives “share predictions for what they think the hospital room of the future will look like in the next five years.”
In the article, Mark Weisman, MD, chief medical information officer at TidalHealth in Salisbury, Maryland, said, in part, “If we learned anything over the last year, it is the need for flexibility, so the hospital room of the future will have that capability to quickly become an intensive care unit room, which requires some advanced thought around space, electrical wiring and fiber placement.
“In terms of gadgets, I picture AI assistants playing a role where a patient can simply ask when their next pain medication is due, when their procedure is going to happen, calling the nurse or identifying which physician is on call today. The room will have basic automation for lights, blinds and temperature that can all be controlled using the AI assistant. The rooms will be equipped with web cameras and monitors on a swing arm so a virtual visit with a member of the care team is built right into the infrastructure. This will also allow a family that is remote to be with their loved one virtually when being there in person isn’t possible.”
Additional predictions were provided by the following individuals:
- Tom Andriola, vice chancellor of information, technology and data and chief data officer at UC Irvine and UCI Health in Irvine, California
- Nick Patel, MD, chief digital officer at Prisma Health in Columbia, South Carolina
- Albert Chan, MD, chief of digital patient experience at Sutter Health in Sacramento
- Daniel Durand, MD, chief clinical officer at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore
Bonus HFMA Content
Register for the free HFMA Annual Conference Virtual Preview from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT June 29, when you’ll learn some key takeaways from the scheduled program for our 2021 conference, hear highlights from keynote speakers and get a preview of featured sessions from each of the eight content tracks. Then, save the date for the HFMA Annual Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center or online, Nov. 8-10, 2021.