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Sustainability & Viability

By supporting, strengthening, and enhancing the rural hospital/clinic infrastructure and capacity through all ARHP projects, we seek to ensure that healthcare continues to be provided locally, the local community grows and thrives, and our hospitals can recruit and retain healthcare workers.

For over 10 years, the ARHP has provided a platform for rural hospital members to come together and leverage scarce resources. This collaboration has enabled hospitals to reduce operational costs and expand the number of qualified healthcare professionals, staff, programs and/or services available to rural communities.

Rural hospitals/clinics are at the heart of the south Arkansas ecosystem. They provide continuity of care for patients, are vital to the economic impact & stability of the regions they serve, are critical to the health and wellness of the communities they serve, and play a large role in the prevention of outward migration.

A single hospital closure would have a detrimental effect to our rural communities beyond just healthcare services; including eliminating scarce jobs, the ability to recruit businesses, less local spending, and in many cases, abolish the biggest employer in the community. Our counties that are already losing population would continue to decay rapidly.

Swing Bed Program

ARHP works with Critical Access Hospital members to increase their revenue and patient volume through a quality and effective swing bed program. The program includes assisting hospitals with staff education, billing education, marketing and coordination assistance, and support to increase patient volume and create quality care for recovering patients close to home. The program began in October and has already demonstrated an increase in swing bed usage in participating CAHs.

Contract Negotiation & Vendor Facilitation

ARHP staff works with vendors and insurance companies for rate adjustments, discounted pricing, and collaborative contracting. To date, this has included insurance rate adjustments, discounted pricing on Medical Equipment, 340b consulting, Revenue Cycle Management, Compliance Software, IT Solutions, Radiology Services, ER Services, Medical Utilization Software, PR/Marketing, Recruiting, etc.

Professional Roundtables

ARHP regularly schedules meetings with member directors from departments across member organizations (nursing, finance, radiology, materials management, etc) to facilitate communication, efficiency, revenue production, and cost savings within our network. To date ARHP is responsible for coordinating 15 different focus groups with an emphasis on improving operations for our facilities. These roundtables became extremely important during COVID-19 as some met with more frequency and the communication built in the months prior really helped facilitate supply distribution, bed availability, equipment needs, etc.

Staffing Agency Review/Development

ARHP is currently working to examine how we can possibly decrease nurse staffing cost for our facilities. ARHP is working to develop an internal network to help decrease travel nurse costs while allowing nurses who would like to travel to have an option within the state. Due to infrastructure cost/ development and after discussion with partner agencies and looking at the feasibility, it appears as though partnering with an agency with the understanding that the ultimate goal is to develop an internal network is the first step is our most favorable way to succeed long-term.

Laundry/Linen Assessment and Development

ARHP has been working with a consultant to develop start-up costs for a laundry/linen facility to be developed in Pine Bluff to service all our facilities. ARHP leadership has met with architects, contractors, management groups, and identified a building. Currently we are in the final stages of completing our assessment. We will request funding for the startup of this business line but look to process north of 3 million pounds of laundry at a cost of less than $0.47 cents per pound. The cost is significantly less than our current members are paying for these necessary services.

Member Job Board

After several of our roundtable meetings, we were requested to develop a job board. This job board is unique in the fact that it lists all of our member’s open jobs and is updated on a weekly basis. ARHP is responsible for promoting this site and helping bring visibility to available jobs in our area.

Service/Program Development

ARHP Roundtables and monthly leadership meetings spark several ideas and many times it encourages ARHP leadership to develop internal programs or services. Based on roundtable information ARHP is currently in development of a USAC program reimbursement program to help reduce IT cost. At the request of its members ARHP has facilitated and performed service line reviews for several products within the facilities similar to the one mentioned above. ARHP internal services include service line/ product line review, contract negotiations, USAC program, Consultation, Job Board, Dietary, Marketing/PR, Laundry Assessment, Staffing Assessment, Community Health Needs Assessments, etc.

Clinically-Integrated Network

ARHP provided funding to build the infrastructure and development of ARHP CIN. The ARHP CIN is the formation of several of our ARHP members working together to create a better healthcare experience for the patient while decreasing cost to our healthcare system. ARHP patient navigators assist patients post hospital stay to ensure proper treatment is being obtained to address chronic conditions and reduce readmissions. The CIN received about $600K for shared savings and after expenses, $300K was distributed among participating providers (for six months only in 2019). Preliminary numbers for 2020 indicate that shared savings will be around $2M.

The ARHP CIN currently offers care coordination services to hospital systems in the region. The role and responsibilities of the care coordinator include:

  • Serve as a patient educator, advocate, and facilitator to help guide patients and caregivers across the care continuum.
  • Partner with providers, patients, and caregivers to develop an individualized care plan.
  • Assist the patient to identify and achieve personal health goals.
  • Encourage patients to adhere to treatment plan (i.e. medication regimen, patient appointments, etc.).
  • Facilitate transitions of care across the health care system.

Consulting Services

ARHP provides community health needs assessments, grant writing assistance, Marketing/Public Relations, Dietary, and strategic planning services for member organizations.

Billing & Coding Education

ARHP has partnered with UAMS’ IDHI team to develop and provide educational webinars and modules specifically related to mental/behavioral health and telemedicine billing and reimbursement processes for Rural Health Clinics. ARHP also partnered with InQuiseek to provide an “Everything RHC” workshop to all partner RHCs with a high-level overview of the RHC coding, billing, and reimbursement requirements.

Behavioral Health

ARHP is working with member hospitals to assist them with strategic planning, funding and staffing resources for transition/expansion of inpatient behavioral health services to meet the needs of south Arkansas residents.

Recruitment & Retention

ARHP is working with the Arkansas State Office of Rural Health to identify and assist eligible hospital members to secure National Health Service Corp Certification allowing hospitals to participate in the Student Loan Repayment Program when recruiting healthcare providers.

For more information about our program initiatives, please contact:
Lynn Hawkins
Chief Officer of Communications & Special Initiatives
lynnhawkins@arruralhealth.org
(501) 588-3938