- The likelihood of dying from five leading causes of death in rural areas is higher than in urban areas, according to a new CDC study.
- In 2014, 25,000 rural Americans died from heart disease, 19,000 from cancer, 12,000 from unintentional injuries, 11,000 from chronic lower respiratory disease, and 4,000 from stroke.
- The CDC also issued a set of recommendations for healthcare providers to address health disparities.
The findings point to gaps in access to care that are more pronounced in rural areas. More and more rural hospitals have been closing in recent years, which has led to a decrease for access to healthcare services in these areas. While it's impacts are yet to seen, repealing the ACA could strain hospitals even further, Bloomberg reported this morning. If proven true, there may be more rural hospital closings on the horizon.
“This new study shows there is a striking gap in health between rural and urban Americans,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “To close this gap, we are working to better understand and address the health threats that put rural Americans at increased risk of early death.”
Rural hospitals out-performed their urban counterparts on several quality measures and they had a higher total performance score in an HHS report released late last year. Yet some facilities are finding ways to improve their bottom line. Childress Regional Medical Center, for example, found that by expanding rather than reducing staff and services, it was able to better address the needs of its patient population and remain profitable.
CDC stated gaps in healthcare could be addressed, recommending rural healthcare providers can:
- Screen patients for high blood pressure and make control a quality improvement goal.
- Increase cancer prevention and early detection.
- Encourage physical activity and healthy eating to reduce obesity.
- Promote smoking cessation.
- Promote motor vehicle safety.
- Engage in safer prescribing of opioids for pain.