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J Rural Health. 1991 Fall;7(5):492-510.

The WAMI Rural Hospital Project. Part 2: Changes in the availability and utilization of health services.

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WAMI Rural Health Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


A major goal of the Rural Hospital Project (RHP) was to assist communities in defining an optimal scope of hospital and community health services. It was hypothesized that a rational basis for service planning would result in an expansion of locally provided health services, increased local hospital and physician market share, improved hospital workload performance, and higher levels of consumer satisfaction with community-based services. However, given the recent decline in performance of many small rural hospitals in general and in RHP hospitals in particular, at a minimum, stabilization of these troubled facilities could be considered a successful outcome. Data were collected from the six rural communities participating in the RHP both before and after the intervention (1985 and 1989) to assess changes in community scope of health services and utilization patterns. Comparative data were also compiled from peer group hospitals when available. Results generally demonstrated stabilization or expansion in: (1) the range of community and hospital services, (2) the availability of community physicians and visiting specialties, and (3) physician and hospital market share. While findings were mixed for patient days, average daily census, and number of births, substantial increases were documented for the number of surgical procedures, emergency room visits, and x-rays over the study period. RHP hospitals generally outperformed peer group hospitals on market share measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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