Washington 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.
Updated/reviewed November 2020
- Need: Women living in rural areas with chronic illness often face little social support, leading to increased rates of depression and stress
- Intervention: Women to Women offered rural women with chronic conditions social support networks via telecommunication
- Results: WTW intervention participants experienced positive increases in self-esteem, social support, and empowerment over the control group
Updated/reviewed December 2020
- Need: To provide high-quality mental healthcare to rural veterans.
- Intervention: The Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) program, stationed at the Portland VA Medical Center, reaches rural veterans in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington via telehealth.
- Results: From 2010 to 2013, 1,754 veterans received diagnoses, therapy, medication management, and other mental health services.
Updated/reviewed August 2020
- Need: To improve the physical health of individuals seeking mental healthcare.
- Intervention: Race to Health! in Washington integrated mental health, substance use disorder treatment, and primary care for individuals with severe mental illness.
- Results: Race to Health! helped reduce emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and costs (a total savings of $5,144,000 for Medicare patients).
Updated/reviewed December 2019
- Need: A cost-effective approach to help rural patients with hypertension learn to manage their condition.
- Intervention: Community volunteers trained as health coaches provided an 8-session hypertension management training program to hypertension patients older than 60, with an optional supplemental 8 sessions focused on nutrition and physical activity.
- Results: Just 16 weeks after the program, participants had improved systolic blood pressure, weight, and fasting glucose, greater knowledge of hypertension, and improved self-reported behaviors.
Updated/reviewed October 2017
- Need: Difficulties obtaining healthcare access to treat diabetes and obesity for low-income and Spanish-speaking residents of Oregon and Washington's Columbia River Gorge area.
- Intervention: A local healthcare facility developed wellness programs using bilingual community health workers to provide education and support that improves diets, physical activity, and teaches stress management.
- Results: Many participants in the wellness programs have maintained or lost weight and have seen reductions in their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Vegetable vouchers, cooking classes, and budgeting education has also helped patients afford healthy food.
Other Project Examples
Updated/reviewed June 2021
- Need: To address the specific health needs of north central Oregon and south central Washington.
- Intervention: The Collective Impact Health Specialist identifies community needs, convenes community partners to design initiatives that address those needs, and secures funding for health-related initiatives.
- Results: Thanks to the CIHS, the Columbia Gorge region has received $12.5 million since 2014.
Updated/reviewed September 2020
- Need: Many older adults are lacking proper nutrition, due to an inability to prepare food, lack of financial resources, depression due to social isolation, or general frailty associated with aging.
- Intervention: The Diner's Choice meal program provides 12 coupons each month to older adults for local restaurants in two rural counties in Washington.
- Results: Older adults in Pend Oreille and Stevens counties receive much-needed nutrition and social interaction, leading to healthier lives.
Updated/reviewed February 2020
- Need: Address oral health disparities in Washington's rural and underserved communities.
- Intervention: The University of Washington School of Dentistry developed the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program preparing dentists for practice in rural and underserved areas.
- Results: As of 2019, 77% of all RIDE graduates are practicing in Washington state. Of those, 82% are practicing in rural and underserved communities.
Updated/reviewed September 2019
- Need: Distance, time, and cost make it difficult for EMS volunteers to attend continuing education and maintain certification.
- Intervention: Inland Northwest Health Services delivers free online training to rural EMS providers via video teleconferencing.
- Results: The EMS Live@Nite program provides free, monthly training to rural EMS providers in the northwestern part of the United States. The program is available through live video conferencing from certified locations in rural communities.
Updated/reviewed December 2018
- Need: There is a shortage of rural physicians in the Northwestern United States.
- Intervention: University of Washington medical students are receiving training through the TRUST program in rural, underserved communities across a five-state radius.
- Results: Long-lasting connections have been formed among regional and underserved communities, medical students, and rural health professionals, producing more rural physicians as a result.
Last Updated: 6/7/2021