Rural hospital closures remain a worrisome issue for policy makers and communities: between 2010 and 2017, 83 rural hospitals closed. The NC Rural Health Research Program tracks these closures and studies potential predictors. Profitability is not the only predictor, but it is one of the main predictors of hospital closure. Researchers and policy makers are trying to better understand what leads up to a closure and how to develop sustainable health care models for communities that lose their hospitals. These studies underscore some of the more recent challenges facing rural hospitals. Add these to the age-old challenges of lower volume, poorer and sicker patient populations, and it’s not hard to understand why some hospitals may be in trouble.
To help policy makers, researchers, and communities understand which hospitals are likely to be less profitable, the brief, Geographic Variation in 2016 Profitability of Urban and Rural Hospitals, describes the geographic variation in 2016 profitability of critical access hospitals (CAHs), other rural hospitals (Medicare Dependent Hospitals, Sole Community Hospitals, and rural PPS hospitals), and urban PPS hospitals by census region, census division, and state.