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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

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

HeartBeat Connections
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: Provide cardiovascular disease (CVD) primary prevention services to residents of New Ulm, Minnesota, in an effort to reduce CVD risk factors and heart attacks.
  • Intervention: Coaching by telephone to promote lifestyle behavioral changes and preventive medication management via a facility-approved protocol for individuals who were identified as being high risk for CVD.
  • Results: Early results indicate this approach is effective at promoting lifestyle changes to decrease the risk of CVD in rural and other underserved areas.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Patient Support and Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • 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.
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

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Medical-Legal Partnership
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • 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 August 2017
  • 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.
Arrowhead Telepresence Coalition
Added August 2017
  • 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 257 registered users in 7 Minnesota counties and 3 tribes.
Isanti County SafeCab Program
Updated/reviewed August 2017
  • 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.
Morrison County Accountable Community for Health
Added August 2017
  • 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 20% reduction in the number of prescribed opioids, and the ACH was able to taper 127 patients off opioids completely.
Staggered Sentencing for Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders
Updated/reviewed August 2017
  • 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.
Suicide Follow-Up Program
Added July 2017
  • Need: To reduce suicides in North Dakota and Minnesota.
  • Intervention: The Suicide Follow-Up Program provides phone calls and cards to those who have called suicide helplines or were referred by a healthcare provider.
  • Results: In 2016, FirstLink made 1,194 calls and sent 316 cards to program participants.
Savvik Buying Group (Formerly North Central EMS Cooperative (NCEMSC)
Updated/reviewed June 2017
  • 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.
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.
Care Partners of Cook County
Updated/reviewed April 2017
  • 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.
Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx)
Updated/reviewed April 2017
  • Need: A tangible way for providers to increase patients' access to affordable healthy food.
  • Intervention: With the 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 FVRx prescriptions in rural and urban areas across 10 states.
Nursing Home Hosts Childcare Learning Center
Updated/reviewed April 2017
  • Need: More childcare and preschool options in a rural Minnesota community
  • Intervention: A local nursing home built a child learning center whose structure offered 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
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.
North Region Health Alliance
Updated/reviewed March 2017
  • Need: A telecommunication network for healthcare providers in northeastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota to provide better healthcare to the region's rural residents.
  • Intervention: The North Region Health Alliance was developed as a collaborative partnership and telecommunication infrastructure that electronically links 21 healthcare providers together.
  • Results: The North Region Health Alliance provides quality telecommunication services to rural healthcare facilities as they work to provide quality healthcare.
Sanford Canby Dental Clinic
Updated/reviewed February 2017
  • Need: To replace a dental practice in rural Minnesota for local and regional residents.
  • Intervention: The Sanford Canby Medical Center started a new dental practice when the private dental practice closed.
  • Results: Quality dental care is available for Canby residents, keeping business dollars local and reducing absenteeism at work due to long commutes for dental care.
Right Side Up Falls Prevention
Updated/reviewed January 2017
  • 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 2017
  • 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.
Prairie Lakes Healthcare System
Added December 2015
  • 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

Last Updated: 11/6/2017