Idaho recognized as top performing state for critical access hospitals

Niki Forbing-Orr

Every year, the top-10 performing states for critical access hospital data reporting rates and levels of improvement are recognized by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. The Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project is run out of the Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care in the Division of Public Health. Over the past year, Idaho ranked fourth nationally.

Idaho’s 27 critical access hospitals serve individuals across the state by improving healthcare access for rural communities, and 100 percent of Idaho’s critical access hospitals participated in the project. Critical access hospitals are those that have up to 25 in-patient beds, maintain an average length of stay of 96 hours or less for patients, provide 24/7 emergency services, and are located more than 35 miles from another hospital or 15 miles in mountainous terrain. These are Idaho’s smaller and rural hospitals.

The Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project helps to improve the quality of care provided in critical access hospitals by increasing quality data reporting and driving quality improvement activities based on the data.

Critical access hospitals are implementing programs to positively impact patient care through quality improvement and data reporting. Examples include: increasing influenza vaccination coverage among healthcare personnel, antibiotic stewardship (proper prescribing of antibiotics), patient engagement and experience, and improving emergency department transfer communication, among others.

As part of the project, the hospitals compared their individual data outcomes to one another, shared strategies, and partnered on initiatives to improve outcomes and provide the highest quality of care for every patient. They have maintained 100 percent data transparency to each other in their benchmarking to foster ongoing dialogue and collaboration to improve quality.