The AHA today released a report offering hospital leaders nine innovative ways to preserve access to essential health services in vulnerable rural and urban communities. Strategies range from integrating rural hospitals with health clinics in the community to using technology to provide 24/7 care in isolated areas. “Many hospitals face challenges maintaining access to health care services in their communities and this report provides a pathway to ensure every hospital has an opportunity to be an access point and an anchor of service,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said at a Washington, D.C., press briefing. “The strategies outlined in this report can serve as a roadmap for all communities as hospitals begin to redefine how they provide more integrated care.” The report’s release culminates 15 months of work by the AHA’s 29-member Task Force on Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities. Task force chairman Bob Henkel, president and CEO of Ascension Healthcare, said the report recognizes that the “solution to improved care is not ‘one size fits all,’ and we must continue to take into account the unique needs of individuals in both urban and rural areas.” Federal policymakers, some of whom provided input to the task force, “also are looking for solutions to these problems,” noted AHA Chairman Jim Skogsbergh, president and CEO of Advocate Health Care. “We are all in this together.” He added, “There is a lot more work to be done, and the AHA is here to help.” Pollack and Henkel also discussed the report in an op-ed piece Saturday in Modern Healthcare.

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