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    Rural Hospital’s Profitability Tied to Board of Directors Positive Perception by Community

    Rural Hospital’s Profitability Tied to Board of Directors Positive Perception by Community

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard that America’s healthcare is in crisis.

    Costs continue to rise past the ability of average American’s to afford it; the latest technology sits unused because of a lack of qualified technicians; waiting rooms are overflowing as physicians are disappearing.

    What’s the solution?

    There are many. But one piece of the puzzle may surprise you — especially if you’re in rural America.

    A recent study by no less than the World Health Organization http://www.who.int/management/facility/hospital/en/ shows that rural hospital’s profitability is directly tied to the level of positive interaction between the hospital’s Board of Directors and Administration and the local residents.

    In other words:

    The more that locals have a good feeling about the hospital’s governing body,
    The more they will make use of the hospital, and
    Profitability goes up

    America is currently in the middle of a physician shortage. That shortage is expected to grow to over 130,000 by 2025.

    Nowhere feels the pinch more drastically than rurual areas. Rural areas in America are predominantly medically underserved. Each year, more and more rural hospitals close. The closures leave community members without easy access to quality healthcare services.

    A hospital, even a rural one, has lots of equipment and patients who need that equipment. If there aren’t enough people coming through the doors, much of the equipment will be unused.

    The number one thing that a Board of Directors must do to keep a rural, non-profit hospital vital is maintain a positive relationship with the community it serves.

    Happy Staff

    With today’s conditions, underlying importance should be placed on keeping staff happy.

    “Many top-level doctors are moving towards cities and there is an urgent need for them to say in rural areas,” says Michael Maven with Carter & Kingsley, a growth strategies company for health providers.

    A staff that feels connected to the hospital’s mission will be happy and stick around, reducing costly turnover.

    “Connect hospital staff to yhour mission, get them to buy-in to the mission and retention will be much easier,” says Calvin Harris.

    Community Relations

    The Board of Directors must develop a good reputation within the community.

    “If patient relations aren’t maintained, more people will choose to travel for their medical needs resulting in the hospital not having the patients it needs to stay viable,” said Michael Maven.

    That’s a sentiment echoed by Calvin Harris, Jr., CEO of Harvin Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that provides consulting services to the healthcare industry.

    “Never forget who you serve,” says Harris.

    The role of community service and assistance should be taken seriously by the board. In addition to services, the board should be willing to figure out how to help develop the local community around the hospital.
    “It's the source of future employees, volunteers and others that will ensure growth. This is really, really true in rural communities,” says Daphne Mallory.

    Continuing Education

    The Board of Directors for rural hospitals must be active, not passive.

    Janelle Al-Dinar, CEO of Healthcare Soutions, points out that “Hospital boards need to educated on how to be great board members - always engaged in the process, not micromanagers. The board members should be involved in a board certification program that allows them to know their individual and collective strengths to galvanize the organization and provide support for the community and physicians.”

    Learn the Culture

    Rural areas hold on to their culture fast. New board members from other
    cities may be tempted to make changes, too fast. Learn the culture.
    Appreciate where patients are coming from.
    Daphne Mallory, Founder of the Daphne Mallory Foundation, likes to see a Board of Directors that “thoughtfully and with an attitude of service, propose changes. When you do the opposite, you're in
    danger of having the hospital not be viable.”
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