Hospitals and health systems encourage better health and economic vitality for the communities they serve. This is especially true for the 60 million — roughly 20% — of Americans living in rural areas, who depend on their local hospital for access to care close to home.

Although rural hospitals work incredibly hard to improve the health of patients and their families, many struggle to address persistent challenges, such as geographic isolation.  The AHA is working to preserve access to care in rural areas on a number of fronts: 

  • Advocacy and public policy: Earlier this year, we released a report outlining rural challenges and proposed solutions, such as new payment models, fair and adequate reimbursement, and expanded broadband technology to support telehealth services. We continue to advocate for policies that support these important efforts.
  • Educational resources: We have developed helpful resources, including case studies and podcasts that showcase successful efforts underway at rural hospitals across the country. 
  • Future of Rural Health Care Task Force: Our new AHA task force is working to identify new models for care delivery and financial stability.

Thursday, Nov. 21 is National Rural Health Day, a great opportunity for rural hospitals to highlight the vital role they play in their communities. See the digital toolkit to learn how you can participate and watch for more resources throughout the week.

Registration is open for AHA’s Rural Health Care Leadership Conference — Feb. 2-5 in Phoenix — where we will focus on the most significant environmental and operational challenges facing rural health care organizations.
All of these efforts are aimed at one goal: empowering rural caregivers to transform care delivery to support the population whose lives depends on them. Preserving rural health and advancing health in America go hand-in-hand.

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