Improving healthcare revenue cycle management strategies is one of the biggest issues facing rural providers—it’s been the downfall of approximately seventy-eight rural hospitals since 2010. Unable to deal with the complicated nature of revenue cycle management, rural hospitals have been forced to either merge with larger entities or shut down permanently. Exacerbating the problem is the shortage of physicians in rural areas, where only 10 percent of the physician population chooses to practice.
Rural populations also face challenging health issues. Research has revealed some of America’s most rural areas are particularly at risk for opioid addiction and abuse, and many experts expect the problem to only get worse. There is also a significant need for mental health services in rural America, with about 18.7 percent of residents of non-metropolitan counties suffering from some sort of mental illness.
The lack of IT (more specifically analytic) adoption amongst rural hospitals makes it difficult to engage in risk stratification, preventative health strategies and population health management programs. Digitally driven solutions don’t seem to be the immediate answer since internet penetration isn’t widespread. About 39 percent of the rural population does not have broadband access and 48 percent do not own smartphones