Rural Health Services Resources

AHA ensures the unique needs of our members are a national priority. Location, size, workforce, payment and access to capital challenge small or rural hospitals and the communities they serve. Collaborating with state and regional hospital associations and with advice from its member council, the Section tracks the issues, develops policies and identifies solutions to our most pressing problems. We do this through:

  • Representation and advocacy in Washington, DC
  • Communication and education
  • Executive leadership and technical assistance
  • Innovation in payment and delivery


Advancing Health is the American Hospital Association’s podcast series. Podcasts will feature conversations with hospital and health system leaders on a variety of issues that impact patients and communities. Look for new episodes directly from your mobile device by using SoundCloud. You can also listen to the podcasts directly by clicking here or

AHA Podcast: How rural hospitals are responding to challenges – A Call-to-Action

July 17, 2019

Earlier this year, AHA published a rural report called “Challenges Facing Rural Communities and the Roadmap to Ensure Local Access and High-quality, Affordable Care.” The report outlines specific legislative and policy recommendations to address the persistent, recent and emergent challenges facing rural communities and the hospitals that serve them. In this podcast, AHA rural health experts explore the purpose of the Rural Report and its Call-to-Action for rural health providers and advocates alike.

Listen here or

AHA Podcast: How rural communities can address behavioral health care challenges

May 29, 2019

Shelly Rivello, director of integrated care at J.C. Blair Health System in Huntington, Pa., and Carrie Henning-Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor and deputy director of the University of Minnesota’s Rural Health Research Center in Minneapolis, discuss innovative models and evidence-based practices to increase access to behavioral health care and integrate mental health services into primary care. Listen here or

AHA Podcast: Rural City Part of Groundbreaking Heart Disease Prevention Initiative

Jun 12, 2019

On this AHA Advancing Health podcast, The Value Initiative series continues with a four-way conversation discussing how the Heart of New Ulm “Hearts Beat Back,” project in Minnesota aims to reduce heart disease and prevent cardiovascular problems before they appear. Listen here or


How two rural hospitals are engaging in innovative practices to meet the needs of their communities

Jul 2, 2019 by Joy Lewis

AHA staff recently visited two rural hospitals to see and hear firsthand how leaders are engaging in innovative practices to increase accessibility and affordability for their communities.

Improving maternal health care in rural communities

Jul 2, 2019 by Jay Bhatt and Melissa Mannon

Women in rural areas face unique maternal health care challenges, including hospital closures or lack of obstetric services. In this AHA Stat Blog, Jay Bhatt, D.O., senior vice president and chief medical officer of the AHA, and Melissa Mannon, AHA associate director of policy development, discuss priorities to improve maternal health services identified at a recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services forum.

5 strategies rural hospitals are using to bolster their workforce

Mar 5, 2019 by John Supplitt and Elisa Arespacochaga

The ability to provide rural residents with high-quality health care is contingent upon an adequate supply of providers.

Chairman’s File: Rural Hospitals = Community Cornerstones

Feb 4, 2019 by Brian Gragnolati

We must act now – and together – to protect local access to high-quality, affordable care and empower rural hospitals to thrive as cornerstones of their communities for generations to come.

Perspective: Moving Rural Health Care Forward

Feb 1, 2019 by Rick Pollack

The AHA’s goal is to improve the health care of every American, no matter where they live…big city, small town, frontier or somewhere in between.

Case Examples and Best Practices

Members in Action: Redesigning the Delivery System

PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center – Florence, Ore.

Critical access hospital engages paramedics to improve care through home visits. Through the Peace Harbor’s Mobile Integrated Healthcare program, a dedicated paramedic checks on patients at home for their safety and provides preventive care to reduce their ED visits, avoidable readmissions and ambulance trips. For every dollar spent on the MIH program, the hospital saved $5 in health care costs. Read the case example here.

Members in Action: Redesign the Delivery System

Columbus Community Hospital – Columbus, NE

Interdisciplinary Teams Reduce Readmissions. Through building relationships among providers across the care continuum and implementing standardized processes, Columbus Community Hospital reduced all-cause 30-day readmissions by 42%, saving $819,797 in hospital care. Read the case example here.

Members in Action: Managing Risk & New Payment Models

New Ulm Medical Center – New Ulm, Minn. The Hearts Beat Back®: Heart of New Ulm Project

Through community partnerships and research, New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) is collaborating to prevent cardiovascular disease and improve the health status of local residents. This critical access hospital is part of Allina Health. Read the case example here.

Members in Action: MSSP ACO

Illinois Rural Community Care Organization - Princeton, IL

The Illinois Rural Community Care Organization builds the structure necessary for rural providers to be successful ACOs. Read the case example here.

AHA Members in Action: Rural ACO Investment Model

Winona Health – Winona, MN

Winona Health’s CCN improves patients’ health and quality of life by focusing not only on the client’s medical health, but also on social determinants. Read the case example here.

Hospitals and Health Systems Ensuring Access in Their Communities

February 2018

This is a compendium of case examples of AHA members from across the country employing the nine emerging strategies recommended by the association’s Task Force on Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities. Access the compendium here.

Rural Health Services Resources

Rural Report

In this report, we examine the persistent, recent, and emergent challenges facing rural hospitals and communities; and recommend updates to existing federal policies and areas for new federal investment to support rural hospitals and communities to ensure access to high-quality, affordable, and efficient health care.

Value Initiative Issue Brief 4: How Rural Hospitals Improve Value and Affordability

Rural hospitals are a crucial local access point for urgent medical services, primary care and prevention in their communities. Despite multi-faceted and complex challenges, rural hospitals continue to transform and adapt to meet the needs of their populations. This Issue Brief highlights four strategies rural hospitals are using to improve value by reducing cost, improving quality or enhancing the patient experience. Read the brief here.

Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities - Taskforce Report and Resources

November 2016

In 2015, the AHA Board of Trustees created the Task Force on Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities. Comprised of 29 hospital and health system leaders and state hospital association CEOs, the task force held meetings, heard from policymakers and conducted field hearings to speak with hospital and community leaders In November 2016, the task force released a report that outlines nine emerging strategies that can help preserve access to health care services in vulnerable communities.

Education and Events

AHA Rural Health Care Leadership Conference

The American Hospital Association’s 2020 Rural Health Care Leadership Conference, February 2-5, Phoenix, AZ, brings together thought leaders in the field and offers proven strategies and resources for accelerating performance excellence and improving the sustainability of the rural hospital and the health of the rural community. The conference will examine the most significant operational, financial and environmental challenges facing rural health providers and present innovative approaches that will enable you to transform your organization’s care delivery model and business practices. For more information go here.

Presentations and Webinars

2017 AHA Webinar Series on Ensuring Access to Vulnerable Communities: Emergency Medical Centers to Ensure a Medical Presence

October 19, 2017

This AHA webinar demonstrated the success of emergency medical centers to ensure a medical presence for vulnerable communities. In this last of four webinars, John Supplitt, AHA Senior Director reviewed the AHA Task Force's emergency medical center strategy. In what may perhaps be the most challenging strategy to employ, many vulnerable communities may find this option the best fit while maintaining access to essential emergency services and providing a foundation for continued primary care. Review the presentation here.

2017 AHA Webinar Series on Ensuring Access to Vulnerable Communities: Hospital/Health Center Relationships

September 21, 2017

In our third of four webinars, John Supplitt, AHA Senior Director reviewed the hospital/health center strategy. Special guest speakers were Michael Perdoni, VP, Monmouth Medical Center and Marta Silverberg, Executive Director, Monmouth Family Health Center, Long Branch, NJ and Darrell Box, CEO, Lafayette Regional Medical Center, Lexington, MO. Guest speakers shared their strategy and outcomes and participants were encouraged to share their experiences and discuss local strategies as well.

2017 AHA Webinar Series on Ensuring Access to Vulnerable Communities: Super-utilizers: Using Data and Innovation to Treat Our Most Vulnerable - Presentation

June 29, 2017

"Super-utilizers" or socially and medically complex patients refers to a small section of the population accounting for a large portion of emergency room visits and puts a heavy burden on hospital services and public health budgets. Review the presentation here.

2017 AHA Webinar Series on Ensuring Access to Vulnerable Communities: Social Determinants of Health

June 20, 2017

In our second of four webinars, Priya Bathija, AHA Policy reviewed the strategies for the social determinants of health. Guest speakers included Ken Shaffer, M.D. and Abby Olson, director, CHI Health Good Samaritan, Kearney, Neb. and Andrew Orefice, program coordinator, and Augusta Mueller, community benefits manager, Yale New Haven Hospital, Conn. who shared their strategy with the community on issues such as housing, transportation, food and other community health needs necessary to advance population health. Participants shared their experiences and discussed steps to address social determinants in their communities. Review the presentation here.

2017 AHA Webinar Series on Ensuring Access to Vulnerable Communities: Telehealth/Virtual Care

April 27, 2017

In our first of four webinars, Priya Bathija, AHA Policy reviewed the strategies for virtual care/telehealth. Joining her was Janice Favorite, Senior Director, Strategy & Business Development who shared the experiences of the Sacramento-based Dignity Health Telemedicine Network and Bryan Slaba, CEO, Wagner Community Memorial Hospital, South Dakota who is a member of AVERA Health. They discussed the use of telemedicine in emergent settings such as hospital EDs as well as the use of telemedicine in clinics to advance population health. They also reviewed behavioral telehealth and relationships with Rural Health Clinics. Review the presentation here.

Hosptital/FQHC Relations – Presentation

October 27, 2016

By collaborating, hospital providers have expanded access, improved efficiency, enhanced the health of the population and maximized resource utilization by avoiding unnecessary duplication of services while directing patients toward the appropriate site of service. Review the presentation here.

Hospital/FQHC ACO Partnership of Maine - Presentation (PDF)

October 4, 2016

Twelve health care organizations across the state have partnered to form the Community Care Partnership of Maine - an Accountable Care Organization (CCPM ACO). Review the presentation here.

ACO Rural Investment Model (AIM)

September 8, 2016

Central Minnesota ACO Investment Model - Presentation

Executive leaders described the goals and objectives of the Central Minnesota AIM. Review the presentation here.

The Safe Passage Initiative: Hospitals & Health Systems Impacting the Opiate Crisis
Reshaping the War on Drugs: A Community Based Approach Presentation

May 25, 2016

KSB Hospital and the Dixon Police Department partnered with treatment centers in and outside of Illinois to coordinate care and treatment for participants. Review the presentation here.

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