Innovating Rural Healthcare: Insights from the 2024 TruBridge National Client Conference

May 30, 2024
Article Background

What happens when over 700 healthcare leaders gather to discuss health tech? A hub of innovation and transformation is formed. During our “Next Step” National Client Conference in Las Vegas, health leaders, hospital executives, clinicians, and innovation experts from across the country came together to explore the evolving landscape of technology transformation. The conference highlighted rural health advocacy, amplifying the critical voice of rural healthcare in broader technology development.

After three days of information and idea exchange, one thing was clear: rural healthcare leaders are powerful and continue to find creative ways to address the challenges in modern healthcare. Here are three top takeaways from the conference:

1. AI Offers Vast Potential but Requires Responsible Development and Implementation

Dr. David Rhew, Microsoft’s Global Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Healthcare emphasized the importance of including rural voices in AI development. Through our partnership with Microsoft as a part of the Trustworthy and Responsible AI Network (TRAIN), we combine expertise in technology with a focus on healthcare needs. 

Rural healthcare holds a unique position in broader health tech conversations. AI technology needs representation from rural communities to address social determinants of health (SDoH) and specific community needs. As technology transforms, we champion the often-overlooked experiences of rural communities. 

AI’s practical applications in healthcare are no longer aspirational. Successful deployment requires intentional buildout, implementation, and education with strong privacy and security considerations. Responsible development is crucial, making networks like TRAIN essential for moving forward. 

"It is great to see TruBridge taking the capabilities of AI responsibly and to have a strong, rural perspective in tech development." 

Cary Zuber

CIO, Kern Valley Hospital District

2. Successful Community Care Relies on a Strong Financial Outlook

For rural health systems across the US, financial well-being is a top concern. Revenue cycle leaders need tools to streamline claims, reduce denials, and improve patient access. With a clear financial outlook, health systems can focus on providing quality healthcare directly to their communities. 

Many health systems struggle financially, but with the right technology, hospitals can improve cash flow and keep care within the community. Accessible data collection, billing, and payment options have shown to enhance both provider and patient experiences. 

Innovative strategies such as live chat, digital appointment reminders, self-scheduling, health literacy tools, and pre-appointment data capture streamline the entire patient experience. These programs empower community care and foster a proactive approach to financial well-being. 

"Attending this conference was invaluable. The focus on financial sustainability for rural health systems resonated deeply with our needs. Learning about innovative strategies to enhance our revenue cycle has given us practical tools to improve our financial health, ensuring we can continue to provide quality care to our community."

Ashley Votruba

CFO, Sweetwater Hospital

3. An Empowered Healthcare Workforce is Crucial for Thriving Communities

While staffing challenges are widespread, they are particularly prominent in rural America. Upskilling and reskilling the workforce is critical for success. Investments in staff education and training prepare the next generation of healthcare leaders, especially as seasoned employees retire. 

As health systems seek to be more efficient and effective, especially in administration, outsourcing can meet these needs outside the hospital walls. Technology reduces redundant tasks, creating opportunities for meaningful patient interaction. 

Stronger workforce support leads to an improved healthcare environment, equipping employees to deliver the highest standard of care. Investment in staff is vital for reducing burden, increasing skills, and allowing employees to focus on essential tasks. 

Looking Forward

As technology continues to evolve, the perspectives of rural Americans are integral to creating an equitable healthcare future. Despite the challenges in community healthcare, the leaders at the “Next Step” conference demonstrated that rural healthcare has a bright, innovative future ahead.