Task Force For Ensuring Access In Vulnerable Communities Unveils A Set Of Strategies

December 1, 2016

The American Hospital Association (AHA) today unveiled a report outlining a menu of options for communities, hospitals and policymakers to ensure that vulnerable rural and urban communities have access to essential health care services. As the hospital field engages in its most significant transformation to date, one out of three hospitals is fighting to survive – potentially putting communities at risk for losing their access to local health care services. Wythe County Community Hospital was enlisted by the AHA to serve on the task force that developed today’s report.

“It’s our job as healthcare providers to keep healthcare local, and to forge new frontiers in designing a delivery system that puts the patient and the communities we serve at the center of all we do,” said Chad Melton, Chief Executive Officer at Wythe County Community Hospital. “The AHA and Taskforce, spent many of hours researching, and discussing models that should be considered across the nation. There is no one-fit-all solution to meeting the needs of every community. Our report outlines there are multiple avenues for adapting, and strategically addressing, the headwinds of delivering care in vulnerable communities.”

In recognition of the challenges facing vulnerable rural and urban communities and the need for new integrated and comprehensive health care delivery and payment strategies, the AHA Board of Trustees created the Task Force for Ensuring Access to Vulnerable Communities. Comprised of 29 hospital and health system leaders and state hospital association CEOs, the task force held meetings, heard from policymakers and conducted field hearings to speak with hospital and community leaders during a 15-month period.

“Many hospitals face challenges maintaining access to health care services in their communities and this report provides a pathway to ensure every hospital has an opportunity to be an access point and an anchor of service,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “The strategies outlined in this report can serve as a roadmap for all communities as hospitals begin to redefine how they provide more integrated care.”

The taskforce report outlines nine emerging strategies that can help preserve access to health care services in vulnerable communities. These strategies will not apply to or work for every community and each community has the option to choose one or more that are compatible with its needs. The nine emerging strategies are:

• Addressing the Social Determinants of Health

• Global budgets • Inpatient/Outpatient Transformation Strategy

• Emergency Medical Center

• Urgent Care Center

• Virtual Care Strategies

• Frontier Health System

• Rural Hospital-Health Clinic Strategy

• Indian Health Services Strategies

The AHA will work with Congress and CMS to create new payment models to support the successful implementation of the strategies. The AHA will also provide assistance and tools to communities and hospitals and health systems looking to adopt the task force-recommended strategies. The report, with more detailed information on each strategy, case studies and a complete advocacy agenda and assistance strategy, is available at http://www.aha.org/advocacy-issues/accesscoverage/access-taskforce.shtml