This model encompasses vans, recreational vehicles, and other vehicles that have been repurposed to
provide space for clinical services or to deliver equipment to locations like schools to operate a
temporary clinic. As a self-contained unit, mobile clinics can deliver services in geographically
isolated areas or small towns that may lack access to healthcare providers. The mobile units offer
many different services such as immunizations, screenings, oral
health services, laboratory services, or counseling for chronic disease management. While the
full range of healthcare services cannot be delivered in a mobile unit, many programs offer
telemedicine services to link patients to specialists located elsewhere.
Examples of Rural Programs that use Mobile Clinics
The North Country Health Consortium is a mature network of
rural health and human services providers that has been developing and implementing programs to
improve access to health care to the rural population of Northern New Hampshire for more than 20
years. Their portable dental program, called the
Molar Express, regularly visits schools, nursing homes, and other community sites to deliver
general dental services like cleanings, extractions, and sealants to children and adults without
a regular dental care provider. The North Country Health Consortium's mission is to lead
innovative collaboration to improve the health status of Northern NH.
The Health Wagon provides mobile health services to
rural and medically-underserved residents of southwest Virginia. Their mobile unit travels to
multiple counties on a regular schedule, providing screenings and treatment for people at risk of
diabetes and other chronic health conditions. They also provide medication management, eye and dental
care, immunizations, facilitation of telemedicine consultations with specialists, and other
healthcare services. Find out more about this program in RHIhub's Rural
Health Models and Innovations.
The Mobile Screening Program for Miners is a partnership between Miners Colfax Medical Center in
Raton, New Mexico and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. A specially-equipped mobile
clinic contains a chest X-ray unit and conducts spirometry testing and screenings for hearing loss and
musculoskeletal issues. Clinic staff can also connect coal miners to pulmonary specialists through a
telemedicine consultation. Similar mobile screening programs are available for miners in Alabama, Illinois,
Indiana, and eastern Kentucky through the Enhanced
Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program.
Considerations for Implementation
The Rural Health Information Hub's Rural Oral
Health Toolkit - Mobile Dental Services Model and Rural Services Integration Toolkit –
Mobile Unit Model discuss implementation considerations for mobile units including the importance of
relationships with community stakeholders, staffing needs, and costs to consider.
Program Clearinghouse Examples
Resources to Learn More
Mobile Health Clinics Association
This trade organization for programs and providers supports the development and sustainability of mobile health
clinics. The group provides a forum for communication between providers, including an annual meeting, as well as
webinars and tools like guidance on budgeting or developing a business plan for a mobile clinic.