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As health care budgets tighten and professional resources become more limited, critical access hospitals (CAHs) may need to consider collaboration as an option to maintain local viability, allowing CAHs to continue providing access to care and quality services for their rural residents. Collaborative health care models are becoming commonplace in today's health care vocabulary, and already several Midwest CAHs in six states are participating in these types of models. This paper will describe the experiences of these CAHs through survey findings and highlight effective approaches taken to achieve successful rural collaboration. The paper will also identify issues that precipitate discussions about collaborative partnerships and explain what may or may not change as collaborations become more formalized. In addition, implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is accelerating discussions about collaboration among providers in an effort to move to a quality, outcome-based care system as opposed to a volume-driven payment system. CAHs will need to determine which collaborative initiatives are the best match for their organizations and recognize that important unique challenges exist in addressing the long-term sustainability of rural providers.

Publication Date





Illinois, rural communities, rural healthcare, critical access hospital




Center for Governmental Studies


Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies

Illinois Critical Access Hospitals: Collaborating for Effective Rural Health Care

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