2023 Milestones Build Momentum for 2024
8 Tips for Modernizing Hiring in 2024
2024 HR Compliance Calendar
Psych 101: Neurodivergence

2023 Milestones Build Momentum for 2024

HealthSure: Devoted to keeping rural strong for 25 years

By Brant Couch,  CEO HealthSure

When my father set out to provide insurance to rural hospitals 25 years ago, he was driven by an unwavering belief that every community, no matter how remote, deserved access to quality healthcare. He saw an opportunity to not only provide specialized insurance and risk management, but to become a true ally in the battle for rural healthcare sustainability.

Barry Couch’s vision to keep rural strong continues to guide HealthSure as we enter our second quarter century in 2024.

In many aspects, ours is a little-told story of an agency that set out on a remarkable journey. What was once a modest Texas-only endeavor, has been quietly transformed into a thriving company actively serving the unique needs of rural hospitals across the United States.

Key to our success has been our singular focus. All of us, from our founder to our newest team members, are keenly aware of the challenges faced by rural hospitals. The perils of geographical isolation, limited resources, an urban-centric regulatory and reimbursement environment, an aging population, and a dwindling workforce pose formidable obstacles.

Understanding and meeting the specific needs of rural hospitals will always be part of our mission.

Never Go It Alone

Over the years, we have learned that tailoring insurance and risk management strategies to address the intricacies of rural healthcare is essential. But we have also learned that insurance and risk management alone is not enough to truly empower rural hospitals in the battle for rural healthcare sustainability.

You could say “Never Go It Alone” is our mantra when it comes to how we’ve grown a unique business whose contribution extends far beyond the conventional.

Looking back at some highlights from 2023, bringing people together, people who share a passion for providing healthcare to rural Americans, has been our go-to strategy.

For example, our leadership team, including our senior risk advisors, have participated in regional and national events by facilitating panel discussion with rural hospital CEOs and Administrators.

Two events stand out:

  • I had the pleasure of facilitating a panel conversation between Rebecca McCain (Electra Hospital District CEO), Rex Jones (CEO Arkansas Rural Health Partnership), and John Henderson (CEO and President of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals – TORCH (Texas Organization for Rural and Community Hospitals)) about what’s working for rural hospitals and how they’re staying rural strong at the TORCH Spring Conference.
  • Senior Risk Advisor Heidi Hughes facilitated a panel discussion about the unique challenges women healthcare leaders face at the National Rural Health Association CAH (Critical Access Hospital) Conference. Sharing their exceptional success stories along with their trials and tribulations where CEOs Stacey Gabriel (Hocking Valley Community Hospital, Logan, OH), Robyn Dunckhorst (Humboldt General Hospital, Winnemucca, NV), and Angela Ammons (Clinch Memorial Hospital, Homerville GA). A large, highly engaged audience learned a lot from these dynamic and amazing trailblazers.

In both cases, the panelists stressed how they rely on the support of their peers, staff, communities, and others to get the job done.

Beating Big Insurance at Its Own Game

An ongoing success story that vividly illustrates the power of never going it alone and thinking outside the box is the Community Hospital Insurance Coalition (CHIC).

Looking ahead to its sixth year in 2024, we expect CHIC to continue building on its past success. As of today, 38 hospitals have joined this rural-hospital-specific, medical stop-loss program. The program has been delivering exceptional cost control, significant dividends ($4.25 million so far), and improved employee health and wellness outcomes.

Similar in nature to CHIC for its out-of-the-box thinking (there is no box!), our Equipment Maintenance Contract Alternatives (eMCA) program continues to grow. eMCA simplifies equipment maintenance with a single contract and is easily saving participants between 10 and 15% every year.

In each of these examples, and others like them, the key to success has been the willingness of participants to share their experience and wisdom with their fellow rural hospital leaders.

Breaking New Ground in Community Engagement

Find a larger outlet for his commitment to ensure every community, no matter how remote, has access to quality healthcare, my father, Barry Couch, has co-created a program that is empowering CEOs to nurture and sustain the support of community leaders in strengthening their hospitals. Called Health Connect, the program facilitates the implementation a step-by-step process that turns community ambivalence into action and empowers pro-hospital community leaders to make a substantive contribution to the health of their hospital.

After successfully implementing the program in three test sites, Health Connect is actively qualifying additional hospitals for program participation in 2024.

TORCH CEO and President John Henderson has been instrumental in getting this program off the ground. And the generous support from Texas Mutual has helped rural hospitals connect with their communities.

Acknowledging Our Roots

No look back would be complete for HealthSure without admitting our roots are in Texas and acknowledging the contribution TORCH has made to our ability to fulfill our mission.


8 Tips for Modernizing Hiring in 2024

As talent acquisition continues to evolve, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for organizations aiming to attract and retain top-tier talent. Last year highlighted labor shortages, looming retirements and a demand for evolving skills. As 2024 begins, the traditional hiring approaches are being reshaped by technology, remote work dynamics and shifting employee expectations. This article explores strategies for employers to modernize their hiring practices in 2024.

Navigating the Future of Hiring

Modernizing hiring practices enhances an organization’s ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent in a competitive environment.

As job seeker’s expectations shift and many leverage technology to find their next job, employers can consider these eight tips for modernizing their hiring process this year:

1. Evaluate diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). DEIB programs are increasingly shifting to support the acceptance of individuals and focus on fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace. A diverse and inclusive hiring strategy—and overall employer brand—can help attract candidates. To be impactful, DEIB has to be a part of an organization’s foundation, including hiring practices—not just initiatives or programs.

2. Emphasize skills over educational degrees. Skills-based hiring isn’t just an aspirational idea; some employers are already taking note and prioritizing finding the right fit for open positions based on skills rather than education or experience. Organizations can take time to review which positions have a legitimate need for a four-year degree or certification and which ones need the appropriate skills. This hiring practice can help expand the talent pool, improve workplace diversity and decrease hiring time.

3. Embrace artificial intelligence (AI). Employers can leverage the power of AI to streamline their hiring process. AI-driven tools can analyze resumes, assess candidate fit and even conduct initial interviews. By automating routine tasks, HR professionals can focus on strategic aspects of recruitment, fostering a more efficient and insightful hiring process. AI can also help personalize candidate engagement by sending tailored messages and recommended or relevant job openings. While AI has its advantages, it’s also important to be aware of the technology’s risks and dangers (e.g., bias and discrimination).

4. Leverage data-driven decision-making. Employers can harness the power of people analytics to inform their hiring decisions. Analyze recruitment data to identify trends, optimize sourcing strategies and enhance the candidate experience. By leveraging data-driven insights, hiring teams can make informed decisions that better contribute to the overall success of their hiring efforts.

5. Incorporate gamification into skills assessment processes. Gamified assessments provide a more engaging and interactive experience for candidates, allowing hiring teams to assess candidate skills in a dynamic and real-world context. This can enhance the evaluation process and showcase the organization as forward-thinking and innovative.

6. Enhance the candidate experience with technology. Technology can help streamline communication, provide timely feedback and offer transparency throughout the hiring process. A positive candidate experience not only attracts top talent but also enhances the employer brand, creating a ripple effect in the talent market.

7. Leverage the right online portals. Virtual recruiting can help employers find the applicants they’re looking for. Furthermore, online platforms—such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Handshake and more—can make it easy for applicants to apply directly.

8. Offer incentives with employee referral programs. Employers can empower their current employees to become brand ambassadors. Millennial and Generation Z candidates generally trust and value word-of-mouth referrals, whether for employment or shopping, so employers could amp up referral efforts to attract this demographic. Employee referral program incentives aren’t new, but they can be modernized to appeal to millennial and Generation Z candidates. As such, employers may consider offering monetary bonuses, paid time off, learning and development opportunities (e.g., covering the cost of attending a conference or training), or charity donations that may motivate younger workers.

While maybe not applicable to every open role, these strategies can give employers new tools to revamp their hiring processes. It comes down to building a competitive advantage to stand out to job candidates. Summary As the digital age progresses, staying ahead of the latest HR trends and technologies is imperative for modernizing the hiring process. By embracing AI and other technologies, prioritizing DEIB and leveraging data-driven insights, employers can attract top talent in 2024 and build a future-ready workforce. Contact us today for more workplace guidance.


2024 HR Compliance Calendar


Psych 101: Neurodivergence

In 1998, Australian sociologist Judy Singer coined the term “neurodiversity” to recognize that everyone’s brain develops uniquely. Singer defines neurodiversity as:

  • A state of nature to be respected
  • An analytical tool for examining social issues
  • An argument for the conservation and facilitation of human diversity

Similarly, the Ohio State University College of Medicine explains neurodiversity as “the idea that people experience or interact with the world around them in many different ways—some that may not be considered typical. It is based on the framework that ‘different’ is not the same as ‘deficient.’” Since there isn’t a “normal” way for a brain to work or function, the larger population is said to be “neurotypical.”

There’s a high chance that you or people around you are neurodivergent—even if you aren’t aware of it. It’s estimated that 15%-20% of the global population can be considered neurodivergent. Understanding neurodiversity can help reduce the stigma around thinking, learning and behaving differences. The neurodiversity movement celebrates diversity and appreciates how everyone uniquely functions.

Forms of Neurodivergence “Neurodivergence” is often used as a nonmedical umbrella term covering several conditions, including the following:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (autism)
  • Down syndrome Dyscalculia (difficulty with math)
  • Dysgraphia (difficulty with writing)
  • Dyslexia (difficulty with reading)
  • Dyspraxia (difficulty with coordination)
  • Mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Tourette syndrome

Many types of neurodivergence, such as autism and ADHD, are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR). The DSM-5-TR is a professional reference book on mental health and brain-related conditions, which is considered a primary reference guide for U.S. mental health providers.

Signs, Causes and Treatment

Neurodiversity refers to how each person’s brain develops uniquely, so signs or symptoms vary greatly. Furthermore, that means the neurodivergence is not preventable or curable. However, some conditions that cause a person to be neurodivergent are manageable. Since symptoms vary, treatment requires personalized care. A healthcare provider can discuss possible management options, including medications and therapy programs.


Neurodivergence is not an illness; it simply means having a different neurology than the majority of people. Neurodiversity challenges traditional notions of neurological normalcy by acknowledging and embracing neurological diversity. It recognizes that differences in cognitive functioning and processing—such as thinking, learning and behaving—exist on a spectrum. Neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia, are not preventable or curable, but they can be managed through early intervention, behavioral therapy and other treatments. A medical professional can evaluate symptoms and outline a personalized care plan.

Embracing neurodiversity contributes to a compassionate society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their neurological differences. Contact a health professional if you have concerns or questions related to forms of neurodivergence.

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This checklist is merely a guideline. It is neither meant to be exhaustive nor meant to be construed as legal advice. It does not address all potential compliance issues with federal, state, or local standards. Consult your licensed representative at HealthSure or legal counsel to address possible compliance requirements.  The information provided in this alert is not, is not intended to be, and shall not be construed to be, either the provision of legal advice or an offer to provide legal services, nor does it necessarily reflect the opinions of the HealthSure, our lawyers or our clients. This is not legal advice. No client-lawyer relationship between you and our lawyers is or may be created by your use of this information. Rather, the content is intended as a general overview of the subject matter covered. HealthSure and Marathas Barrow Weatherhead Lent LLP are not obligated to provide updates on the information presented herein. Those reading this alert are encouraged to seek direct counsel on legal questions.