Hospital Services Program

The State Office of Rural Health’s Hospital Services Office provides technical assistance and resources to support critical access and small rural hospitals in sustaining health care for Georgia’s rural residents. The initiatives include:

  • Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Grant Program – The Flex Program focuses on four core areas:
    • Support for Quality Improvement in Critical Access Hospitals
    • Support for Operational and Financial Improvement in Critical Access Hospitals
    • Support for Health System Development and Community Engagement, including integrating EMS in regional and local systems of care
    • Designation of Critical Access Hospitals

The Flex Program supports the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) which focuses on beneficiary health status improvement.

  • Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) Grant – The SHIP Program focuses on four core areas:
    • Value Based Purchasing (such as improving data collection activities in order to facilitate reporting to Hospital Compare)
    • Accountable Care Organizations (such as activities that support quality improvement including, reduction of medical errors, education and training in data collection, reporting and benchmarking)
    • Payment Bundling (building accountability across the continuum of care)
    • Prospective Payment System (charge description master updates, education and training in maintaining accurate billing and coding)

The SHIP Program encourages eligible hospitals to form networks and pool grant funds to maximize purchasing power through economies of scale.

  • Development of other rural grants to assist in providing access to health care in underserved areas.

Critical Access Hospital Program

  • A Critical Access Hospital is structured differently than other small hospitals. Critical Access Hospitals:
  • Are certified for no more than 25 bed
  • Maintain an average annual length of stay of 96 hours
  • Offer 24-hour, 7-day-a-week emergency care
  • Located in a rural area, at least a 35 mile drive from another hospital