But they’ll likely be providing more than funding, Wallace said in an interview, by reaching out to rural communities to find determine their most pressing needs and how they can help.
“It could be anything ranging from telehealth issues,” he said, “as well as things like community health assessment. As those small rural hospitals go down the road to health reform, we and the Colorado Rural Health Center want to be resources for them.”
Fouts says Centura Health is the first of what CRHC hopes will be many partners.
“70% of the state is rural or frontier, so there’s a lot of need here,” Wallace said.
Could this program pave the way for these facilities to form accountable care organizations? Possibly, said Fouts, but that’s not its main objective. Before they can even get to that point, she said, these facilities need to meet basic needs and stabilize their businesses.
“A lot of facilities just struggle day-to-day keeping their doors open,” she said. “So they really need to have all of this infrastructure set up with their IT systems and with their billing processes and really be running smoothly before they are going to get to that level of being an ACO.”
Moreover, ACOs were never an impetus for the program anyway.
“We have had this as one of our strategic goals for years and years,” Fouts said, “way before anyone ever knew what an ACO was.”