Rural Hospitalizations for COVID-19: A Snapshot for December10, 2020

Since the onset of COVID-19, public health leaders have emphasized reducing the rate of viral spread to ensure that hospitals did not become overwhelmed. The U.S. DHHS publishes weekly data on individual hospital’s indicators for management of COVID-19 patients. The NC Rural Health Research Program analyzed these data to compare the percent of hospitalized patients… Read more »

CMS Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) 2014 Risk Scores Are Lower for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries than for Urban Beneficiaries

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) use Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) and demographic information to calculate beneficiary risk scores, which predict expected Medicare spending by beneficiaries. CMS-HCC risk scores may be underestimating expected health care utilization among rural beneficiaries compared to urban beneficiaries. Incorrect estimation of expected health care  utilization can lead to… Read more »

Association of CMS‐HCC Risk Scores with Health Care Utilization among Rural and Urban Medicare Beneficiaries

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) use Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) and demographic information to calculate beneficiary risk scores, which predict expected Medicare spending by beneficiaries. CMS-HCC risk scores may be underestimating expected health care utilization among rural beneficiaries compared to urban beneficiaries. Incorrect estimation of expected health care utilization can lead to… Read more »

A Comparison of Rural and Urban Specialty Hospitals

Specialty hospitals are important providers in both urban and rural areas. However, they are not evenly distributed across these areas. The NC Rural Health Research Program in the brief, , addresses three types of specialty hospitals: Long Term Acute Care Hospitals (LTCHs), Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities (IPFs), and Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs). We compared urban and… Read more »

Urban Hospitals with a High Percentage of Inpatient Days for Rural Patients

To understand the variability in hospitals that qualify for special Medicare payment classifications, it is important to analyze characteristics of urban hospitals, particularly those with substantial rural patient populations. The NC Rural Health Research Program’s brief, , evaluates differences in urban hospitals with high and low percentages of rural inpatient days using several indicators. These… Read more »

Changes in Care‐Seeking after Rural Hospitals Merge

Rural hospital mergers have increased significantly since 2010. Enhanced financial performance and improved quality are often cited as benefits, but hospital mergers can also lead to changes in the services provided by acquired hospitals. This brief estimates the use of inpatient services delivered by acquired rural hospitals following a merger.   The NC Rural Health… Read more »

Most Rural Hospitals Have Little Cash Going into COVID-19

In the infographic, , The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program uses recent Medicare Cost Report data to illustrate the type of rural hospitals most likely to struggle financially during the pandemic as measured by lower median days cash on hand. Days cash on hand is a common measure of an organization’s level of cash… Read more »

Patterns of Hospital Bypass and Inpatient Care-Seeking by Rural Residents

Hospital bypass, the tendency of local rural residents to not seek care at their closest hospital, is thought to be a contributing factor for rural hospital closure. To to update the knowledge base of determinants of bypass behavior, the NC Rural Health Research Program produced the brief, . We analyzed 2014-2016 Healthcare Cost and Utilization… Read more »

Understanding the Broader Context of Rural Hospitals and Profitability

Rural hospital closures remain a worrisome issue for policy makers and communities. Since 2005, 170 rural hospitals closed. The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program and Policy Analysis Center tracks these closures and studies potential predictors. Profitability (revenue greater than expenses) is not the only predictor, but it is one of the main predictors of… Read more »

Rural Hospitals with Long‐term Unprofitability

To remain open, businesses generally need to be profitable (have revenues greater than expenses). Hospitals are no different. Hospitals use profits to pay for new and upgraded buildings, equipment, technology, programs, and other patient care needs. To assess hospital profitability, we often look at total margin. Total margin measures the control of expenses relative to… Read more »

Geographic Variation in the 2018 Profitability of Urban and Rural Hospitals

Rural hospital closures remain a worrisome issue for policy makers and communities. Since 2005, 170 rural hospitals closed. The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program and Policy Analysis Center tracks these closures and studies potential predictors. Profitability (revenue greater than expenses) is not the only predictor, but it is one of the main predictors of… Read more »

Occupancy Rates in Rural and Urban Hospitals: Value and Limitations in Use as a Measure of Surge Capacity

As policymakers deal with the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the hospital infrastructure, understanding the differences in occupancy rates between rural and urban hospitals may help state and local officials in their planning for dealing with surge demand. Historically, rural hospitals have reported lower occupancy rates than urban hospitals and more licensed than… Read more »