Nearly every industry is facing a transition in this modern era. Payment methods, online assets, data protection, mobile technology and other trends have made a huge impact on businesses of all sizes and sectors. Those that can navigate through these changes successfully will have the chance the thrive, while others may be left behind.

For the healthcare industry, the challenges of the information age can be particularly pronounced, especially for small providers. In order to keep up with their larger competitors and – more importantly – provide quality service to as many clients as possible, small hospitals must make the extra effort.

Iowa providers play a vital role
Across the state of Iowa, 82 Critical Access Hospitals comprise one of the largest rural health care networks in the country, according to The Gazette. Over 1.4 million people rely on these clinics for care when they need it. Therefore, the hospitals must be able to provide quality care despite their lack of urban resources.

"Iowa has some of the best rural hospitals and clinics in the nation," Gloria Vermie, director of the Iowa State Office of Rural Health Director, told The Gazette. "Improving access to quality, whole-person health care – while ensuring organizations and health care professionals stay on course with state and federal changes – requires vigilant dedication."

Additionally, rural hospitals are faced with clients with lower average incomes than their well-funded metropolitan counterparts. Then there is the issue of staffing and recruiting – top-notch healthcare professionals are less likely to work in rural Iowa than a big city like Chicago. Not only that, but small hospitals have a more difficult time managing overhead costs and funding.

These obstacles are no small matter for urgent access facilities. While they do offer the necessary care, they must resolve their own internal issues or else be faced with an inability to carry on as needed.

Ways to alleviate small healthcare anxieties
Fortunately, all is not lost for rural hospitals. In fact, just the opposite – there are plenty of solutions available to these healthcare providers. These techniques can give hospitals a leg up and help them better provide for their patients.

To help reduce the pressure of high costs, hospitals can negotiate better deals, convert to individual plans or access the Small Business Health Options exchange, reported CNBC.

"[SHOP] is essentially a federal or state-run supermarket – or marketplace – where businesses can shop for small-business plans," explained Sally Poblete, founder of Wellthie, a New York City digital health firm that helps small firms understand their health insurance options. "It allows for different types of personalities, needs, ages and so forth to pick plans best for their health-care needs."

Additionally, mobile technology can allow patients to meet with the best doctors and physicians in the country – even the world – through remote interfacing technology. In this way, those patients with specific needs that may be beyond the capabilities of local health professionals can pair up with the best doctors in the business.

Most importantly, small hospitals must thoroughly research all of their options. There are a variety of innovative and cost-effective ways to offer patients the care they need, but without adequate investigation, these health providers will fall short of their responsibilities.

Equipment and healthcare industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in healthcare equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.