Alvin Hoover, CEO of King's Daughters Medical Center in Brookhaven, MS, took the reins this month as chair of the American Hospital Association's Section for Small or Rural Hospitals in 2013.
The 24-person governing council represents small or rural hospitals in the AHA's policy process and member services initiatives. Hoover spoke recently with HealthLeaders Media about the challenges that small and rural hospitals will face in the coming year.
HLM: In your view how are small and rural hospitals faring these days?
AH: Times are a little bit scary for hospitals, particularly for small and rural hospitals. They typically don't have the volumes of patients they have in urban and suburban hospitals. You have a lot of hospitals out there and their census is eight or 12 patients a day and it is hard to come by economies of scale when you are seeing those few patients.
Figuring out how to do things differently is going to be a real challenge. There are threats to the critical access hospital program. Some legislators think that paying an extra 1% on top of your costs is too much. It's not for small and rural hospitals. Those critical access hospitals have to figure out how to be efficient and effective with their care. Those are words you will hear me say all year long.
We have to improve quality in a way that is different than before. We have to figure out how to do it with fewer resources. For small and rural hospitals those are daunting challenges because they are often the first and the last places where you can get healthcare.