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Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Leadership Development Program
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • Need: Reasonably-priced leadership education was needed for professional development of healthcare organization managers in southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming.
  • Intervention: Creation of a health network providing leadership training opportunities for member hospitals.
  • Results: Increased leadership and managerial quality, and decreased professional development costs for rural hospitals of southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Indiana Statewide Rural Health Network (InSRHN)
Updated/reviewed July 2018
  • Need: To improve sustainability and financial viability for rural healthcare providers throughout Indiana.
  • Intervention: A network of rural healthcare providers for Critical Access and other hospitals in Indiana who are dedicated to improving their ability to deliver efficient and high-quality healthcare for their rural residents.
  • Results: The network has been leveraged to increase access to resources, coordinate services, and improve and expand healthcare access.
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.
RS3 – Rural Montana Surgical Support System
Added November 2017
  • Need: Providing more in-state surgical care options for Montana patients.
  • Intervention: A system to keep surgical procedures in Critical Access Hospitals or provide seamless engagement of Montana's available advanced surgical expertise when needed.
  • Results: Increased surgical care options, with a side benefit of recruiting young surgeons to rural/frontier Montana.
ICAHN External Peer Review Network
Updated/reviewed August 2017
  • Need: Critical access hospitals (CAHs) in rural Illinois required an external mechanism for peer review.
  • Intervention: Using physicians from network member hospitals, a CAH network implemented a peer review process.
  • Results: Staff peer reviews also improved healthcare quality within the CAH network.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Upper Peninsula Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: Healthcare entities in the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan were using different medication formularies, missing opportunities for group purchasing power and consistent care.
  • Intervention: The Upper Peninsula Health Plan and the Upper Peninsula Health Care Network developed a regional partnership for managing prescription costs and quality pharmaceuticals in rural, upper Michigan.
  • Results: More informed pharmaceutical decisions and lowered pharmaceutical costs for Upper Peninsula Health Plan member organizations.

Last Updated: 1/11/2019