RWHC Overview

RWHC is owned and operated by forty, rural acute, general medical-surgical hospitals. The Cooperative's emphasis on developing a collaborative network among both freestanding and system affiliated rural hospitals distinguishes it from alternative approaches. In 1996, RWHC created a non-voting Affiliate Membership for specialty provider based systems.

Click on links for more information:

Local Map of RWHC Office & Training Center at 880 Independence Lane, Sauk City, WI 53583 (Please note that Independence Lane is only accessible via Sycamore Street)

RWHC Overview

Incorporated in 1979 as the Rural Wisconsin Hospital Cooperative, RWHC has received national recognition as one of the country's earliest and most successful models for networking among rural hospitals. Today, the work continues as the renamed Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative responds to the needs of its diverse members and their communities.

RWHC serves as a catalyst for statewide collaboration and a progressive, creative force on behalf of all rural health constituencies. Owned by thirty-nine non-profit rural acute, general medical-surgical hospitals, RWHCs charge is twofold: advocacy for rural health at the State and Federal levels, and shared service development for member hospitals as well as external customers. The Core Values of trust, collaboration, creativity, excellence, pride, openness, individual development, productivity, and responsibility continue to define the work of RWHC and its members.

RWHC’s advocacy agenda is as follows:

1.   Federal healthcare reform that recognizes rural realities.

2.   Fair Medicare and Medicaid payments to rural providers.

3.   Federal and State regulations that recognize rural realities.

4.   Retain property tax exemption for nonprofit hospitals.

5.   Solve growing shortage of rural physicians and providers.

6.   Bring rural voice to regional provider networks & payers.

7.   Bring a rural voice into the quality improvement movement.

8.   Continue push for workplace and community wellness.

9.   Strong link between economic development and rural health.

The tenants of advocacy and shared service have benefited one another over the years. Since its inception, RWHC has maintained a philosophy of “together, we are better”, working collaboratively to represent the smaller rural hospital arena as an important stakeholder at the policy maker’s table. Initiatives from CAH Status development, through Rural HIT have benefited from RWHC’s expertise in crafting rural health policy. Today, that expertise continues to shape the landscape of rural health services in America.

Shared services have grown through collaborative efforts, and continue to provide sustainable alternatives to our rural partners both in Wisconsin, and around the country. At the heart of RWHC service line development is the commitment to be an affordable and effective option for rural health organizations in the areas of quality, patient satisfaction, credentialing, HIT, workforce development, financial consulting, and reporting compliance with regulatory agencies. RWHC’s business model gives us the opportunity to deliver services that are innovative and reliable, yet affordable for the smaller hospital. With more than 30 years of experience, RWHC continues to be recognized as a leader providing shared services to smaller hospitals. 

Continued growth has led to RWHC establishing three additional stand alone business entities. First, the RWHC Network was established to negotiate HMO and other insurer contracts. The Network assists members with payer contract development and management. The RWHC PHO was founded to work with hospitals and physicians on issues surrounding Medicare Advantage programs. And finally, in 2007 RWHC and Member hospitals founded the RWHC Information Technology Network, a 501(c) 3 organization delivering shared EHR and HIT services. 

Papers about RWHC

Provider collaboratives: Working together to navigate the changing health care delivery system  "Are provider collaboratives here to stay—or are they just a temporary fad? And what makes them successful? We talked to nine collaboratives to learn more."  Deloitte February, 2017

“Advocating for Collaborative Work: One Perspective, 30 Years in the Making”–a PPT by Tim Size for the Healthy Wisconsin Partnership Program conference, “Collaboration to Improve Rural Health" on June 7th, 2012.

"Leadership Development for Rural Health" PDF by Tim Size, NC Med J 2006;67(1):71-

RWHC Receives International Recognition Click here for an article from the November, 2003PDF Newsletter of the The International Health Co-operative Organization (IHCO) a specialized organization of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

Non-agricultural Cooperatives in Rural Areas: Fourteen Case Studies by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, 2003 (RWHC is Case Study #10 on pages 28-32); Click here for article.PDF

"The Art & Science of Rural Network Development" by Tim Size for the Office of Rural Health Policy All Programs Meeting Seession for Rural Health Network Development Grantees, August 9th, 2006. Available as a PowerPoint Presentation or Handout.PDF.

Suggested Ground Rules for Collaborative Meetings PDF (9/97)

Guidelines To Enhance Cooperation: Among Rural Providers, Systems & Insurers PDF  (8/97)

Business Advisory Letter from Department of Justice to RWHC PDF

"Seeing Green" PDF (10/95)

"Cooperative provides link between rural hospitals" PDF (10/95)

"Strategic Alliances, Some Lessons from Experience" PDF (3/95)

"Managing Partnerships: The Perspective of a Rural Hospital Cooperative" PDF (1/94)

"Rural Wisconsin hospitals work cooperatively to maximize community-controlled services"PDF  (12/81)

For More Information

Tim Size
Executive Director
Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative
880 Independence Ln
Sauk City, WI 53583
(608) 643-2343 or
FAX (608) 643-4936


Strategic Partners





Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 

  Rural Health Careers of Wisconsin 

WI Academy for Rural Medicine 


Wisconsin Physician Careers


Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program


Wisconsin Health Reports



© 2000-2017 Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, 880 Independence Lane, Sauk City, WI 53583