The Institute of Medicine cautions in a new report that rural healthcare could be left behind in the national campaign for quality improvement and payment incentives unless rural hospitals' unique needs and fragile finances are considered. Quality Through Collaboration: The Future of Rural Health re-examines in a rural context the IOM's 2001 blueprint, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Hospitals and physician offices in rural settings have found it difficult to make the investments necessary to set themselves up for quality programs, the report notes. In addition, rural areas find it more difficult to attract enough physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide a core set of primary-, emergency-, acute- and long-term-care services needed to ensure health quality. Among its recommendations, the IOM calls for the CMS to establish five-year pay-for-performance projects in five rural communities starting in fiscal 2006. It also said the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality should produce a report no later than fiscal 2006 analyzing the impact of changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, private health plans and insurance coverage on the financial stability of rural healthcare programs. -- by John Morrissey
Don't bet the farm on rural healthcare: IOM
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