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Local hospital makes national-ranking list

<i>Submitted photo</i>

iVantage Health Analytics released March 11 its list of the top 100 Critical Access Hospitals that included River Falls Area Hospital among the nation's best rural safety-net institutions.

To rank the hospitals, the organization uses the Hospital Strength Index, a scorecard that evaluates a facility's market conditions, clinical and operational performance, and financial and qualitative outcomes.

The index compares about 4,000 general acute-care hospitals based on public data, Medicare-cost reports and claims and quality reporting. The system uses a 100-point scale for each area of performance and analyzes 56 individual metrics.

Findings from the study conclude that top critical-access hospitals are about 52% independent, while the others are affiliated with a health-care system.

So what is a CAH?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website defines CAH as: "A hospital certified under a set of Medicare conditions of participation that are structured differently than an acute-care hospital."

Requirements include the hospital having no more than 25 inpatient beds and an average stay of 96 hours or less; the facility must be located a certain distance from other hospitals and must provide 24-hour emergency care.

A certified CAH receives cost-based reimbursement from Medicare instead of standard, fixed reimbursement rates. The site says, "This reimbursement has been shown to enhance the financial performance of small rural hospitals that were losing money prior to CAH conversion -- and thus reduce hospital closures."

Heather Logelin, the hospital's foundation and community engagement director, said iVantage seems to have considered factors similar to the 'triple-aim' approach that has been "a core tenet of the national conversation on health care reform."

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement characterizes the triple-aim initiative as 1) better care for individuals, 2) better health for populations, 3) lower per-capita costs for all.

Logelin said, "As part of Allina Health, we are very focused on the triple aim and are achieving excellent results with quality, satisfaction and outcomes. The cost factor is more challenging and we continue to challenge ourselves and our employees to think about how we can reduce costs while maintaining quality, satisfaction and outcomes."

Hospital President David Miller said the hospital, part of Allina Health, is honored to be on the list.

"Our inclusion on this list reflects our strong performance across many areas, including care, satisfaction, growth and financial management," Miller said, "Our staff provides the high quality, personalized care, resulting in excellent outcomes and extremely satisfied patients. It is gratifying to see our staff being honored for the impressive work they do each and every day."

See the list and learn more about the ranking company at its website:

More information can be found about CAHs by going to the USHHS website and clicking on rural health: