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Rural Health Information Hub

Integrated Rural Health Network

In the article Understanding Integrated Rural Health Networks, an Integrated Rural Health Network is defined as

“a formal organizational arrangement among rural healthcare providers (and possibly insurers and social service providers) that use the resources of more than one existing organization and specifies the objectives and methods by which various collaborative functions will be achieved.”

Integrated Rural Health Networks have autonomous members and are created for a variety of reasons: aligning resources and strategies, achieving economies of scale and efficiency, and increasing value.

To be considered integrated, all network members must have coordinated efforts in at least one of three areas. Some networks involve coordination in multiple areas.

  • Clinical integration (coordinating patient care services across units)
  • Functional integration (coordinating administrative functions)
  • Financial integration (sharing capital, risks, and profits)

Integrated Rural Health Networks can be organized laterally, suggesting all members represent one type of provider (sometimes referred to as horizontal or homogenous networks). Examples include:

Integrated Rural Health Networks can also have members that represent multiple types of providers (sometimes referred to as vertical networks). Examples include:

Resources to Learn More

Integrated Care Management in Rural Communities
Working paper that outlines strategies and necessary investments for developing integrated healthcare networks in rural communities.
Author(s): Griffin, E. & Coburn, A.
Organization(s): Maine Rural Health Research Center
Date: 5/2014

Using Rural Health Networks to Address Local Needs
Exploration of five networks to demonstrate a variety of methods networks can apply to organize and address local concerns. The report includes each network's history, planned objectives and progress toward goals.
Author(s): Moscovice, I. & Elias, W.
Organization(s): AcademyHealth
Date: 7/2003