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Rural Health Information Hub

Rural Project Examples: Pharmacy and prescription drugs

Effective Examples

Project Lazarus
Updated/reviewed November 2021
  • Need: To reduce overdose-related deaths among prescription opioid users in rural Wilkes County, North Carolina
  • Intervention: Education and tools are provided for prescribers, patients and community members to lessen drug supply and demand, and to reduce harm in prescription opioid use
  • Results: Opioid overdose death rates have decreased in Wilkes County
Pharmacists for Patient Safety Network
Updated/reviewed September 2021
  • Need: Pharmacists in rural Nebraska are often isolated and find it difficult to communicate with others about safety concerns.
  • Intervention: The Pharmacists for Patient Safety Network was a communication network in which pharmacists identified safety concerns and shared solutions.
  • Results: After one year of implementation, 30 of the 38 participating pharmacies reported that the network encouraged new safety practices and reinforced existing safety strategies.
Midcoast Maine Prescription Opioid Reduction Program
Updated/reviewed May 2020
  • Need: Reduction in the number of emergency department dental patients abusing opioid prescriptions in rural southeastern Maine.
  • Intervention: Using a one-page opioid prescription guideline, opioid prescribing and emergency room visits for dental pain decreased.
  • Results: The rate of opioid prescription dropped nearly 20% after implementation, and in comparing the 12-month period before and after implementation, dental pain emergency department visits decreased from 26 to 21 per 1,000.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy The Health Wagon
Updated/reviewed January 2021
  • Need: Healthcare access in Central Appalachia for the medically underserved challenged by social and economic determinants of health, including transportation barriers, food insecurity, poverty, and lack of health insurance.
  • Intervention: Three mobile clinics and 2 stationary clinics provide free health care for people in 16 counties in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
  • Results: By leveraging technology and meeting patients where they are, Health Wagon provided comprehensive healthcare services — including specialty care — to 5,500 patients during 16,000 visit encounters in 2020.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy The Rural Virtual Infusion Program
Updated/reviewed April 2020
  • Need: Allow rural cancer patients in a region inclusive of 26 counties in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota to have access to tertiary-level chemotherapy regimens in rural infusion centers.
  • Intervention: With telehealth-based oversight from a tertiary care oncology team, 3 rural infusion teams were trained to coordinate cancer treatment plans and administer complex chemotherapy regimens.
  • Results: Almost 130 patients were transitioned to receive chemotherapy in a rural infusion center, translating to over 1,000 infusion visits and saving patients/families nearly 65,000 trip miles, 1,800 travel hours and $71,000.

Other Project Examples

Mobile Health Units for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
Updated/reviewed April 2022
  • Need: To bring medication-assisted treatment to rural and underserved areas in Colorado.
  • Intervention: Six mobile health units travel to 32 counties and offer services like telehealth sessions, counseling, naloxone, and referrals to wraparound services.
  • Results: The units traveled more than 100,000 miles from January 2020 to January 2021.
Queen Anne's County Mobile Integrated Community Health (MICH) Program
Updated/reviewed March 2022
  • Need: To connect patients to resources in order to reduce use of emergency services, emergency department visits, and hospital readmissions.
  • Intervention: Patients receive support (by in-person visit, phone call, or telehealth visit) from a paramedic, community health nurse, peer recovery specialist, and pharmacist.
  • Results: Between July 2016 and June 2019, the MICH program enrolled 233 patients and demonstrated a total savings of $3,393,908 in healthcare costs.
Southwest Health System Antibiotic Stewardship Program
Updated/reviewed March 2021
  • Need: Impact patient care and safety issues related to antibiotic use in southwest Colorado.
  • Intervention: Pharmacy-led antibiotic stewardship program for inpatient, outpatient, and long-term care settings.
  • Results: With antibiotic use guidelines, refined infection diagnostics, and first-choice antibiotic selections, all care settings now see decreased days of treatment and decreased resistance patterns.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy SLV N.E.E.D.: Naloxone Education Empowerment Distribution Program
Updated/reviewed August 2020
  • Need: Growing concern in rural Colorado communities regarding prescription and illegal opioid overdoses.
  • Intervention: Education efforts for health workers and the larger community, in addition to establishing a naloxone overdose reversal drug program.
  • Results: In addition to continuing to train nearly all first responders to administer naloxone, the organization provides harm reduction education in various community settings.
Scheffe Prescription Shop's Medication Synchronization Program
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: For adults with chronic conditions, skipping a dose or two is common, but can also be risky. Frequent medication in-adherence has accounted for emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and even death.
  • Intervention: The Scheffe Prescription Shop in Enid, Oklahoma started a medication synchronization program. Pharmacists serve as care coordinators for patients by prepackaging pills, scheduling recheck appointments, and providing pickup reminders and medication education over the phone.
  • Results: The program has reduced the number of trips patients have to take to the pharmacy to pick up their pills and has increased medication adherence rates over 4 years.