The AHA today released a new report detailing the 24/7 role of America’s hospitals and the challenges threatening this essential part of the nation’s health care infrastructure.

Rising demand for emergency care and disaster readiness; a shortage of resources and funding; a move to equalize payment across care settings without regard to the cost of maintaining 24/7 capacity; and the continued migration of care out of the full-service hospital setting pose credible threats to the hospital’s ability to maintain its role as a community asset, the report concludes.

These challenges “are symptoms of broader issues facing the health care system in the context of growing need and constrained resources,” the report adds. “How the system addresses these issues, the success of these efforts, and the lessons learned will have a profound effect on the health care system as a whole.”

At the same time, hospitals are undergoing a major shift, building collaborative teams that are improving the coordination of health care, notes Caroline Steinberg, the AHA’s vice president of trends analysis, in an AHASTAT blog post. “They're partnering with other health care providers and experimenting with new ways to provide care where people live and work – not just at the local hospital,” she says.