CHA News Article

Report Charts Trends in Rural Health Care

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released the Chartbook on Rural Health Care, part of a family of documents that support the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports (QDR). Each year, the reports provide Congress with a comprehensive overview of the quality of health care in the U.S. and disparities in care experienced by different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. The rural health component includes an overview of the QDR; an overview of residents of rural areas, one of the QDR priority populations; a summary of trends in health care quality and disparities for rural populations; and tracking of access and quality measures for rural populations.

Among the report’s key findings are:

  • More residents of nonmetropolitan areas live in poverty compared with residents of metropolitan areas.
  • A higher percentage of residents in rural areas has activity limitations due to chronic health conditions.
  • Rural residents often live farther away from health care resources, which can add to the burden of accessing care.
  • Between 1999 and 2015, suicide rates among American Indians, Alaska Natives, blacks and whites increased in rural areas.
  • Half of the nearly 5,000 hospitals in the U.S. are in rural areas.
  • Most rural hospitals have about 265 beds and seven inpatients daily, and are housed in facilities approximately 10 years old.