Rural healthcare rocks

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ECG’s radio show and podcast, Healthcare Upside Down, offers unfiltered perspectives on what’s working in US healthcare and what’s not.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on ECG's website.

Hosted by ECG principal Dr. Nick van Terheyden, each episode features guest panelists who explore the upsides and downsides of healthcare in the US—and how to make the system work for everyone.

Rural healthcare is a notoriously tough marketplace. Large proportions of people in rural areas are in poor health and from lower socioeconomic groups. The population is widely dispersed, and low density makes economies of scale difficult to find and sustain. A healthcare facility in a rural setting may be the only one for hundreds of miles; the threat of being acquired by a larger system is constant. Attracting physicians and keeping them is always difficult

Memorial Health System (MHS) in Marietta, Ohio, has encountered all of those challenges. Located at the base of Appalachia, on the Ohio River and bordering West Virginia, MHS is a two-hour drive from most urban facilities. Its patient population is typical of rural areas, and 70% of the patients it serves receive government-subsidized care.

But unlike so many rural healthcare systems, MHS isn’t struggling—it’s thriving.

  • The past 10 years have seen the development of freestanding ERs, primary care clinics, and cancer clinics.
  • MHS hospitals offer 15-minute access to emergency physicians at a time when competing emergency departments have hours-long waits.
  • The system has expanded across a largely rural geography of 360,000 people, a level of scale that enables MHS to provide substantial care in cardiology, neurology, orthopedics, oncology, and other areas. Click here to continue>>


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