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Iowa Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Evidence-Based Examples

Helping Kids PROSPER
Updated/reviewed January 2017
  • Need: An approach to support sustained, quality delivery of evidence-based programs for youth and families in rural communities.
  • Intervention: PROSPER, a program delivery system, guides communities in implementing evidence-based programs that build youth competencies, improve family functioning, and prevent risky behaviors, particularly substance use.
  • Results: Youth in PROSPER communities reported delayed initiation of a variety of substances, lower levels of other behavioral problems, and improvements in family functioning and other life skills.

Effective Examples

LIFE - Living (well through) Intergenerational Fitness and Exercise
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: Rural-residing older adults in Iowa have inadequate access to physical activity specialists and/or exercise facilities, which limits their ability to remain sufficiently active.
  • Intervention: Iowa State University implemented an intergenerational “exergaming” program to encourage fun and safe physical fitness among rural older adults.
  • Results: Pilot studies showed that older adults demonstrated increases in strength, flexibility, activity levels, and confidence in their ability to be physically active. Younger adults experienced reduced ageism and increased knowledge and expectations of aging.
Rural Restaurant Healthy Options Program
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: Obesity has become a widespread health epidemic in the United States, especially in rural areas. Due to small profit margins and the fear of customer loss, small owner-operated rural restaurants are hesitant to make health-conscious changes to their menus.
  • Intervention: The Healthy Options Program offered an economical and low-maintenance program for owner-operated restaurants in Iowa to increase awareness of already existing healthy menu options and substitutions.
  • Results: Restaurants received positive community feedback and experienced no financial loss. Customers noticed and appreciated the healthy option reminders, and ordering behavior was impacted in a healthy way.
Avera eCARE
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: Rural hospitals and healthcare providers have less access to specialty care support.
  • Intervention: A service was created at Avera Health that provides 24-hour virtual access to specialty care physicians, nurses and pharmacists.
  • Results: Rural patients can receive specialty care without leaving their communities, and rural healthcare providers can get needed support in providing quality care to their patients.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy SD eResidential Facilities Healthcare Services Access Project
Added October 2015
  • Need: To provide health services for rural, elderly populations in long-term care who are inaccessible due to their location within four Midwest states.
  • Intervention: Implemented telemedicine services to reach patients at their respective sites.
  • Results: The program resulted in 362 provider-determined avoidable transfers and hundreds of telehealth encounters that ultimately kept patients in the comfort and care of their primary care providers.

Other Project Examples

Mobile Women's Health Unit
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths for the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) female population, and those living in remote areas have difficulties getting screening mammograms.
  • Intervention: The Great Plains Area Indian Health Service Mobile Women's Health Unit provides mammograms to women on multiple reservations across four states.
  • Results: Approximately 1,000 women are screened annually for breast cancer in the mobile unit.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Sowing the Seeds of Hope
Updated/reviewed June 2017
  • Need: Agriculture workers and their families had high rates of psychological distress and suicide, but limited access to mental health services.
  • Intervention: The "Sowing the Seeds of Hope" (SSoH) program was created to provide affordable and culturally appropriate mental health services to individuals working in agriculture and their families in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
  • Results: The regional program ran from 1999-2011 and successfully established a variety of interventions to help individuals in rural communities’ access behavioral health services.
Avera LIGHT
Updated/reviewed March 2017
  • Need: Assistance for Midwest rural physicians who are experiencing burnout due to heavy workload, lack of staff, limited resources, and stress related to the use of electronic medical records.
  • Intervention: Through a variety of methods, Avera LIGHT comes alongside of providers to prevent and treat physician burnout and support their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
  • Results: Physicians who have been on the brink of quitting because of burnout have stayed on staff as a direct result of Avera LIGHT.
Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative
Added November 2015
  • Need: Close to 70% of adults and 37% of children ages 4 and under in Northeast Iowa are overweight or obese.
  • Intervention: In rural Iowa, efforts are being made to support and promote access to locally-grown, healthy foods and active lifestyles, particularly in children, through the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative.
  • Results: Over $70,000 of food grown by local farmers was purchased by Northeast Iowa schools during the 2014-15 school year. The Central Community School K-6 overweight or obesity rate decreased from 38% in 2010-2011 to 30.6% in 2014-15.
Trinity Pioneer ACO
Added November 2015
  • Need: American healthcare is transitioning from fee-for-service models to valued-based payment models, and communities could fall behind the changing national trend.
  • Intervention: The Trinity ACO was formed in rural Iowa after being selected by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation as 1 of the 32 Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations.
  • Results: Trinity continues to focus on palliative medicine, produce effective strategies in distributing value-based services, and works closely with government bodies to construct federal ACO methodology, especially when it comes to rural-specific organizations.

Last Updated: 11/6/2017