In a new study by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and IBM Watson Health partnership, researchers discovered that rural hospitals limited or shut down their maternal and neonatal services after being bought or merged into larger hospital chains. The merger could save that certain health care facility from closing, but in doing so could leave the community it serves in the dust.

From the study: “We found that merged hospitals were more likely than independent hospitals to eliminate maternal/neonatal and surgical care. Whereas the number of mental/substance use disorder–related stays decreased or remained stable at merged hospitals and within their catchment areas, it increased for unaffiliated hospitals and their catchment areas, indicating a potential unmet need in the communities of rural hospitals postmerger. Although a merger could salvage a hospital’s sustainability, it also could reduce service lines and responsiveness to community needs.”

To read the rest of the study, click here.

SOURCE: The Rural Blog, Health Affairs