Rural Hospitals Can Survive in Today’s Competitive Environment

By: Leah Worthy

Klinikum Worms

A recent article from Community Hospital Corporation shared five ways rural hospitals can beat the odds and survive in today’s competitive environment. The article highlights the importance of fostering a positive hospital culture, identifying areas needing improvement, comparing data to that of competitors, finding the right partnerships, and promoting board member involvement and education.


In working with rural hospitals to build call pay programs that support their longevity and financial wellness, we’ve observed just how critical these things are to the success of these organizations. In fact, we’ve built our programs with many of the same objectives in mind. For example, we provide a platform for board member involvement by creating clear lines of communication between all stakeholders. And most importantly, our programs support positive hospital cultures by strengthening hospital-physician relationships as well as physician-physician relationships. 


The first step in our process, the establishment of a Physicians’ Call Committee, is key to the improvement of these relationships. The Physicians’ Call Committee creates a fairness standard for all call pay arrangements, and it gives physicians a voice in the process. This eliminates the lack of transparency present in traditional, single-specialty negotiations and builds trust between administration and the medical staff. 


The Physicians’ Call Committee also decreases agitation between specialty groups. During our process, every specialty is considered for inclusion in the call pay program. Physicians are given the chance to share their experiences and give their peers a glimpse into the frequency and intensity of their call coverage. We’ve found that there are often misconceptions in the medical community regarding the call burdens of other specialties, so this step gives physicians a better understanding of who’s sharing this workload. And even though all specialties cannot be included, at the end of the day, those who are excluded understand why and realize that the decision has been made based on a fair and standardized process. 


Our programs also provide a way for hospitals to recoup a portion of their compensation expenditures, which allows them to offer more attractive rewards without compromising their bottom line. Containing cost makes compensation more sustainable for the future. This aids in recruitment and retention, which are typically more difficult for rural facilities.


Beginning with a foundation of trust and fairness, hospitals can create call pay programs that have a positive impact on areas outside of compensation. A well-designed call pay program can improve culture, attract and retain top talent, and increase the sustainability of compensation.


These are the areas rural hospitals must focus on in order to remain financially viable and independent. We believe in the power of compensation to help ensure that our communities receive quality care for generations to come. 



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