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3 Strategies of Financially Successful CAHs

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, October 12, 2011

By definition critical access hospitals are isolated. But just because they're isolated geographically, doesn't mean they must be isolated from each other. When the going gets tough, CAHs can band together and teach each other a lot. And according to most forecasts, the going is getting tougher all the time.

"The stakes are going to be higher over the next three years than they ever have been before," George Pink, senior research fellow at the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, tells HealthLeaders. "2011's going to have record merger and acquisition activity; a lot of small hospitals may disappear, or they may be absorbed into larger systems."

With such high stakes, financial viability is more important than ever, and when it comes to success factors for CAHs, who better to turn to than each other?

So the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center set out to determine why some CAHs are financially healthy. The center is sharing those success factors in an effort to improve financial viability among all hospitals.

With funding from the Office of Rural Health Policy, researchers surveyed CAHs and conducted interviews with 20 administrators whose hospitals were financially successful. Although a lot of factors go into the financial viability of a hospital, researchers were able to identify certain executive management strategies that contribute to success.

"These are things that every hospital administrator should be looking at and thinking about whether it would help them," Mark Holmes, director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research Center, tells HealthLeaders.

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