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Rural hospitals outpace urban ones in Medicare value-based program

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In what might surprise many people, rural hospitals, despite all their problems and  the fact that few are affiliated with medical schools, did better on average  than their urban counterparts in Medicare’s value-based purchasing program, says a new report by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The program rewards or penalizes acute-care hospitals based on the quality of care. The report said rural hospitals did better than urban ones on patient experience as well as on efficiency and costs.

HHS said “while rural hospitals face unique barriers, they have a number of strengths that might enable successful participation in and good performance under delivery reform efforts.”

The report linked rural hospitals’ strong showing in part to the care coordination  needed among a  relatively small (compared to urban and suburban hospitals) group of providers and noted that a broad range of services often share the same physical site or owner, which tends to increase efficiency.

It also said the increasingly effective use of telemedicine, particularly useful for treating  widely dispersed  populations in the countryside, might be improving care in rural hospitals.

To read the HHS report, please hit this link.

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