Top Ways that a Community Hospital Innovates


Increasing financial pressures. Patient safety. Government mandates. Personnel shortages. Patient satisfaction. 

These are the most vexing challenges facing hospitals today, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives. They are challenges that are omnipresent, staring administrators and physicians squarely in the eyes, daring them to find a better way, to innovate. 

And it’s likely that the road to responding to the challenges will wind its way through America’s community hospitals. 

While most people associate innovation with large healthcare systems, research universities and med-tech companies, many important advances in hospital care and the business of health care actually stem from work conducted at community hospitals. 

Here is a look at some of the ways a community hospital can not only keep up with the rapid pace of innovation, but actually be a leader.

Addressing financial pressures

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is facing immense financial challenges. The adequacy and timeliness of Medicaid reimbursements, the inability of patients to pay, rising costs associated with staff and operations, and the overuse of emergency department services affects hospitals large and small. 

And while a community hospital might not have all of the resources of a larger healthcare system, what they do possess is nimbleness. 

Physicians working in a community hospital typically deal with less bureaucracy, which means they have more license to develop innovative solutions to financial challenges. 

For example, they can create hybrid models of multiple service lines and programs that meet their patients needs more efficiently and reduce overhead costs. 

Addressing patient safety issues

As the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) pointed out in its report on patient safety, to err is human–and many chronic patient safety concerns are caused by human error. 

According to the AHRQ, communication (or a lack thereof) is the root cause of many quality and safety issues in hospitals. This is especially true at large hospitals that deal with large daily censuses. 

But at a community hospital, where physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other staff are more likely to know one another well and work closely together, communication tends to be less of a problem. 

It may not sound all that earth shattering, but community hospitals are on the forefront of making communication a priority by breaking down silos and putting patient safety first. Of the 100 hospitals in the country to be recognized as the best by Truven Health Analytics in 2016, 60 are community hospitals–and all were recognized for their commitment to building a culture of open communication and prioritizing patient safety. 

Addressing the staffing challenges

The healthcare industry is in the midst of a staffing crisis–and it’s affecting the large healthcare system and community hospital alike. 

According to the American Nurses Association, there is a significant shortage of nurses (and it’s not likely to go away any time soon). There’s also a shortage of physicians, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges

Being innovative in recruiting qualified healthcare professionals is nothing new for community hospitals which are often located in smaller communities. 

For years, they’ve been offering healthcare professionals career opportunities that are not likely to be had at large healthcare systems:

  • Opportunities to use expanded functions
  • Opportunities to treat a broader range of cases
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Lower costs of living
  • Fewer quotas
  • Stronger connections with patients. 

These are just some of the benefits healthcare professionals reap from community hospitals.

Elliot Health System is proud to be an innovative community hospital. Join us!

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