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The FLEX Program

Did you know?

  • That hospitals are often the largest employer in a rural town and the healthcare sector is often the largest in a given county?
  • That most rural hospitals operate at a loss? 
  • That 23 rural Oklahoma hospitals have partnered with OSU to help train our thrid and fourth medical students? 

A surprising number of the population is often unaware of this relationship between tomorrow’s doctors and our rural hospitals. 

The bottom line is:

  • Without rural hospitals OSU Center for Health Sciences has nowhere to train our physicians. 
  • Without rural hospitals small communities struggle to attract businesses. 

It is imperative they stay open so Oklahoma can produce its own doctors and to keep rural communities economically viable. 

The Oklahoma Office of Rural Health works with rural hospitals to make sure they stay in business.  As mandated by Congress in 1991 this is part of our mission. 

A key component the ORH uses to address the challenges posed by the financial realities of many rural areas is the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (FLEX).  The ORH uses funds from this program to provide, free of charge, rural areas with financial tools necessary for local leaders and citizens to make informed decisions about their healthcare infrastructure. 

The cornerstone of the program is the Community Engagement Process.  This is a series of meetings with local leaders and citizens that seek to educate the community on just how economically critical it is to use and maintain local hospital services and healthcare providers. 

The program is free and pays for:

  • A telephone survey of over 200 local residents on how they feel about their local healthcare providers and which services they use locally.
  • A customized directory of local healthcare services
  • An economic impact study the local hospital and healthcare providers have on their community
  • Demographic data for their area. 

It is not uncommon for a community to come out of the process surprised by two things: 

  • How significant the local healthcare system’s economic impact is
  • The quality and quantity of services it provides. 

The ORH also pays for economic feasibilities studies for an individual community.  These studies assess whether or not a given community can support a particular physician specialty.

To get more information or to have your community participate in one or all of these programs please contact the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health at (405)840-6500.