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Minnesota 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.

Effective Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Patient Support and Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed January 2020
  • Need: To connect low-income people in rural northwest Minnesota to dental care and support services in order to address barriers to care.
  • Intervention: Partners work together to provide patient transportation, care coordination, and insurance navigation and enrollment.
  • Results: Patients accessing support services are more likely to complete dental treatment. Over 1,000 people a year have been assisted with Medicaid enrollment, and reported use of the emergency department for dental pain has been reduced.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy SD eResidential Facilities Healthcare Services Access Project
Updated/reviewed August 2020
  • Need: To increase local health services to rural elderly populations in long-term care facilities located in four Midwest states near a tertiary care organization.
  • Intervention: A non-profit healthcare organization implemented telehealth services to provide acute care evaluations for long-term residents in their home facilities.
  • Results: The program increased local care as evidenced by improved year-over-year provider-determined available transfer data: 33%, 50%, 63% program years 1 through 3, respectively. From the success of the initial pilot implementation, the program has further matured into a long-term care offering that now reaches many other rural facilities located in 10 states across the nation.
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.
SASH® (Support and Services at Home)
Updated/reviewed January 2020
  • Need: In Vermont, the growing population of older adults, coupled with a lack of a decentralized, home-based system of care management, poses significant challenges for those who want to remain living independently at home.
  • Intervention: SASH® (Support and Services at Home), based in affordable housing communities throughout the state, works with community partners to help older adults and people with disabilities receive the care they need so they can continue living safely at home.
  • Results: Compared to their non-SASH peers, SASH participants have been documented to have better health outcomes, including fewer falls, lower rates of hospitalizations, and fewer emergency room visits.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy TeleStroke/Vascular Neurology Patient Navigator Program
Added March 2019
  • Need: Improve post-hospital stroke care access in order to improve physical function and well-being for stroke patients living in a 6-county area in rural Minnesota.
  • Intervention: Implementation of an evidence-based patient navigator program paired with telehealth services for post-hospital care of rural stroke patients.
  • Results: In addition to other successes, more than 120 individuals enrolled in the navigator program, the Modified Rankin Score assessments at baseline and 6 months showed functional improvements.

Other Project Examples

CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place—Advancing Better Living for Elders)
Updated/reviewed July 2020
  • Need: To help older adults age in place.
  • Intervention: For five months, CAPABLE participants receive home visits from a registered nurse, occupational therapist, and home repair services.
  • Results: The CAPABLE site in rural Bath, Maine, has helped 15 clients so far, one of whom went from 15 falls and one hospitalization in the 6 months prior to starting the program to one fall and no hospitalizations. The site in Hawaii has served three clients in the last year and has reconnected clients with their families and communities.
FirstLink Caring Contacts
Updated/reviewed July 2020
  • Need: To reduce suicides in North Dakota and Minnesota.
  • Intervention: The Caring Contacts program provides phone calls and cards to those who have called suicide helplines or were referred by a healthcare provider.
  • Results: In 2019, FirstLink made 11,232 calls and sent 1,694 cards to program participants.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Implementation of a Nursing Veterans' Initiative to Transform Education (INVITE)
Updated/reviewed June 2020
  • Need: To support rural veterans pursuing a career in nursing.
  • Intervention: The INVITE program improved the curriculum and reworked admission requirements to better support veteran students' experiences in the College of St. Scholastica undergraduate nursing program.
  • Results: The number of veterans pursuing nursing has more than doubled since program implementation, and all students have reported an increased interest in serving rural communities.
Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline
Updated/reviewed June 2020
  • Need: To connect farmers in stress with needed resources.
  • Intervention: The Minnesota Farm & Rural Helpline and website connect callers with counselors, help with daily living (like childcare or food assistance), and financial/legal advice.
  • Results: In 2019, the helpline received 95 calls, and the website had nearly 4,600 visits.
Savvik Buying Group (Formerly North Central EMS Cooperative (NCEMSC)
Updated/reviewed February 2020
  • Need: Due to its reduced Medicare ambulance service reimbursement, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act threatened to put many rural volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) providers out of business across the country.
  • Intervention: Savvik (formerly North Central EMS Cooperative, or NCEMSC) created a mechanism for EMS providers to achieve cost reduction through group purchasing.
  • Results: The program brings discounts on EMS supplies to over 6,300 members across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Avera LIGHT
Updated/reviewed January 2020
  • Need: Assistance for urban and rural physicians — as well as other healthcare providers — who are experiencing burnout and other issues associated with well-being.
  • Intervention: As part of its provider well-being focus in its rural and urban facilities, Avera Health system has created a program which attends to physician wellness issues starting with recruitment with continued support through retirement.
  • Results: With increasing engagement due to word of mouth, the program creates a culture of wellness where stigma is decreased and providers are encouraged to be proactive in reaching out for assistance for issues related to their personal and professional well-being.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Medical-Legal Partnership
Updated/reviewed January 2020
  • Need: To help low-income patients in rural Minnesota overcome legal barriers to oral healthcare and self-sufficiency.
  • Intervention: The medical-legal partnership of Northern Dental Access Center and Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota provides free consultations and support services.
  • Results: The innovative and collaborative approach has been recognized regionally and nationally, and over 9,000 new patients have been screened for legal issues.
Albert Lea Blue Zones Project
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: Healthy lifestyles are often difficult to achieve for community members of rural, small-town areas.
  • Intervention: The rural community of Albert Lea, as part of the Blue Zones Pilot Project, implemented walking and biking initiatives along with high-level policy systems and environmental changes to promote health and wellness.
  • Results: In the past 5 years, there has been a 38% increase in walking and biking among community members, and they have lost a combined total of 8,000 pounds.
Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota Abound Counseling
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: To provide mental health services to rural residents in North Dakota and Minnesota.
  • Intervention: Abound Counseling of LSSND provides in-person counseling services in 8 communities and telehealth counseling services to other areas.
  • Results: In the first year of practice, Abound Counseling has brought greater access to quality mental healthcare for young children.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Sowing the Seeds of Hope
Updated/reviewed December 2019
  • Need: Agriculture workers and their families have 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 1999-2014 and successfully established a variety of interventions to help individuals in rural communities' access behavioral health services.
Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative
Added November 2019
  • Need: To help rural, low-income older adults in rural Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota maintain their independence and improve their health and well-being.
  • Intervention: The Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative improves service coordination, promotes social engagement, and provides programs like healthy cooking classes and caregiver support.
  • Results: Phase I served more than 1,100 vulnerable older adults in 70 communities, who reported lower stress and better quality of life.
Isanti County SafeCab Program
Updated/reviewed October 2019
  • Need: To reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving in Isanti County.
  • Intervention: The SafeCab program provides alternative transportation home for bar patrons who would otherwise drive impaired.
  • Results: The program is credited with a significant decrease in DUI (Driving Under the Influence) arrests and the lower average corresponding BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) levels in Isanti County.
Staggered Sentencing for Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders
Updated/reviewed October 2019
  • Need: To reduce the incidences of repeat drunk driving.
  • Intervention: Repeat DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders were given a staggered sentence, allowing them to serve their sentence in segments of time, typically separated by several months to a year. The offender was able to file a motion to request a waiver for the remaining sentence period(s), if able to show that he/she maintained sobriety.
  • Results: The incidence of recidivism, or crime relapse, has been reduced among offenders given staggered sentences, by comparison to offenders given traditional DWI sentences. The program has also reduced the average cost of jail time that otherwise would have been served from a full sentence.
Morrison County Accountable Community for Health
Updated/reviewed August 2019
  • Need: To combat prescription drug misuse in rural Morrison County, Minnesota.
  • Intervention: The Morrison County ACH brings together primary care, social services, law enforcement, and other partners to make sure that patients receive treatment and support.
  • Results: One pharmacy saw a 40% reduction in the number of prescribed opioids, and the ACH was able to taper 684 patients off opioids completely.
Care Partners of Cook County
Updated/reviewed July 2019
  • Need: To provide holistic, interdisciplinary palliative care to those with chronic illnesses in rural hospitals in Cook County, Minnesota.
  • Intervention: Care Partners of Cook County created a palliative care program that utilizes local healthcare professionals and volunteers to provide universal care to patients and caregivers, without Medicare hospice status.
  • Results: Since its inception in 2010, the program has assisted over 185 residents in need.
Prairie Lakes Healthcare System Physician Recruitment Model
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • Need: Localized specialty and surgery services for residents in rural northeastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.
  • Intervention: Prairie Lakes Healthcare System expanded their services by recruiting specialty physicians and networking with regional community hospitals to increase patient referrals.
  • Results: Patients receive surgery and specialized care closer to home through Prairie Lakes' 26 specialty medical providers and more than 20 specialty services.
Arrowhead Telepresence Coalition
Updated/reviewed August 2018
  • Need: Individuals in northeastern Minnesota who experience mental health crises have often taken action in ways that are harmful to themselves or others.
  • Intervention: The Arrowhead Telepresence Coalition connects behavioral health providers to rural patients in traditional and non-traditional medical settings through a telehealth platform.
  • Results: The service is used by 378 registered users in 7 Minnesota counties and 3 tribes.
The Minnesota Integrative Behavioral Health Program
Added June 2018
  • Need: Out of 79 Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) surveyed in Minnesota in 2015, behavioral health was the most frequently cited service requested.
  • Intervention: In response, Rural Health Innovations launched the Minnesota Integrative Behavioral Health Program. This initiative engages representatives across all sectors in health integration between hospital, primary care, and community services.
  • Results: Strategy sessions have resulted in the creation of resource directories to improve care coordination, evaluation measurements to document results, and an overall better understanding of integrative care challenges.
Wholesome Rx
Updated/reviewed June 2018
  • Need: A tangible way for providers to increase patients' access to affordable healthy food.
  • Intervention: With Wholesome Rx, a fruit and vegetable prescription program, providers prescribe vouchers for patients to redeem for fruits and vegetables at local healthy food retailers.
  • Results: Over 10,000 people have received Wholesome Rx prescriptions in rural and urban areas across 10 states.
Nursing Home Hosts Childcare Learning Center
Updated/reviewed May 2018
  • Need: More childcare and preschool options in a rural Minnesota community.
  • Intervention: A local nursing home built a child learning center whose structure offers an educational setting for childcare as well as regular intergenerational activities between children and elderly residents.
  • Results: The partnership has resulted in benefits for all parties involved, instilling a sense of youth in the elderly and selfless care in the children.
Right Side Up Falls Prevention
Updated/reviewed January 2018
  • Need: Falling is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in adults over the age of 65.
  • Intervention: The Right Side Up program was implemented in rural Otter Tail County to address the prevention and management of falls and risk for falls through in-home assessments given by interdisciplinary healthcare professionals and students.
  • Results: Short-term outcomes revealed 100% of participants found the visit and recommendations for falls prevention to be helpful, and 78% implemented these recommendations.
Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Rural Transportation
Updated/reviewed January 2018
  • Need: Public transportation options in a rural 8-county area in northwest Minnesota.
  • Intervention: A coordinated public transportation and volunteer driver system which serves northwest Minnesota.
  • Results: Increased ridership and affordable access to transportation for residents of 8 counties in rural, northwest Minnesota.

Last Updated: 8/7/2020