Best Hospitals in Rural America

Source: Courtesy of Fairview Park Hospital

Rural areas are sometimes underserved in important respects, ranging from equitable educational opportunities to broadband internet access — and certainly to healthcare. 

Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and Medically Underserved Populations (MUPs) are federal designations that indicate a lack of primary care services for an area or a population. They are based on four factors: ratio of population to primary care providers; infant mortality rate; percentage of population below the federal poverty level; and percentage of population over age 65. (These are the counties with the fewest hospitals.)

Fortunately, there are good hospitals in rural areas around the country, and 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the best of them, based on The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Survey for 2020. Leapfrog uses national performance measures to evaluate individual hospitals on safety, quality, and efficiency. 

Our list shows that some states fare much better than others when it comes to rural hospitals. The standout is Maine, a state with a relatively small, low-density population. It has no fewer than five top hospitals. Michigan has three and Georgia two. Hawaii, which is as far as one can get from Maine and still be in the United States, has one. Many other states didn’t make the cut. (These are the 25 states with the worst health care systems.)

To identify the best rural hospitals in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 2020 Hospital Survey published by The Leapfrog Group, which collects and analyzes data on health care safety and quality in America. The survey rates hospitals on such matters as preventing and responding to patient harm; medication safety; healthcare-associated infections; maternity care; pediatric care; critical care; complex adult and pediatric surgery; care for elective outpatient surgery patients; and elective outpatient surgery for adults and children. To be ranked among the best, a hospital needed to receive an A grade in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, and to score among the highest institutions overall. Hospital locations were manually researched.