Open Access: Design and Impact of a Novel Rural Hospital Alliance
AbstractWithout rural hospitals, many patients may not have access to essential services, or even any health care. Rural hospitals provide a community hub for local access to primary care and emergency services, as well as a bridge to specialized care outside the community. The goal of this review was to demonstrate how the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences supports and empowers rural hospitals through an alliance that provides cost savings through clinical networks, collaborative purchasing, and leveraged services; workforce recruitment and education; telemedicine and distance learning; community outreach; and access to best practices, resources, and tools for hospital transformation. Born out of grassroots efforts in the rural US South, this model alliance, the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership, with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences supporting as an academic medical center participant, offers resources and programs intended to help rural hospitals and healthcare providers survive and even thrive in the challenging landscape that is forcing many other rural hospitals to close. The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership model is relevant for rural states that are seeking to develop or reenvision rural hospital alliances with academic medical centers to the benefit of the hospitals and the health of their communities and state.
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