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Fed Pledges to Rural Providers Strike the Right Notes

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 6, 2013
  • Eliminate a requirement that critical access hospitals, rural health clinics, and federally qualified health centers have a physician on site at least biweekly to provide medical direction.

    "Many physicians in extremely remote areas found it difficult to comply with this biweekly schedule. Specifying a specific timeframe for a physician to visit a rural facility does not ensure better healthcare," Conway says. "With the development of telemedicine a physician should have the flexibility to utilize a variety of options to provide medical direction."
  • Allow registered dieticians to order patient diets directly rather than relying on approval from clinicians. "As a practicing hospital medicine physician I have personally—including while working in a hospital this past weekend—seen the potential for medical errors if physicians misunderstand dieticians' recommendations," Conway says.

    "This will provide hospitals with the flexibility to allow dieticians to practice to the full extent of their scope of practice and enter orders directly."
  • Allow rural hospitals with swing beds to be surveyed when the hospital is surveyed, rather than being surveyed separately.
  • No longer require for one director of outpatient services. "Each hospital can determine the most efficient and effective way to manage outpatients. This change is critical for small, low volume rural hospitals with more limited staff resources," Conway says.
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