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Rural Healthcare Quality 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.

Evidence-Based Examples

Project ECHO® – Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: To increase the capacity for more effective treatment of chronic, complex conditions in rural and underserved communities.
  • Intervention: Through a specially-designed project, remote primary care providers work with academic specialists as a team to manage chronic conditions of rural patients, expanding remote providers’ knowledge base through shared case studies.
  • Results: Patient management and care provided by rural providers through ongoing education and mentoring from Project ECHO® has proved as effective as treatment provided by specialists at a university medical center.

Effective Examples

Pharmacists for Patient Safety Network
Updated/reviewed August 2017
  • Need: Pharmacists in rural Nebraska are often isolated and find it difficult to communicate with others about safety concerns.
  • Intervention: The Pharmacists for Patient Safety Network is a communication network in which pharmacists can identify safety concerns and share solutions.
  • Results: After one year of implementation, 30 of the 38 participating pharmacies reported that the network encouraged new safety practices and reinforced existing safety strategies.

Other Project Examples

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.
The Hospital Cooperative Benchmarking Initiative
Updated/reviewed June 2017
  • Need: Healthcare facilities that were part of The Hospital Cooperative (THC) needed a simple, customized benchmarking tool to compare indicators across member hospitals.
  • Intervention: THC developed a benchmarking template that is fast and easy to use.
  • Results: THC collected data semi-annually at each facility, allowing for valuable information and data to be reported to the cooperative quickly.
Patient Centered Medical Home Practicum in Primary Care
Updated/reviewed May 2017
  • Need: Improvement in service quality and patient experience in primary care practices in North Carolina's Blue Ridge region.
  • Intervention: A practicum for healthcare management students to help rural practices achieve Patient Care Medical Home (PCMH) status and identify quality improvement strategies.
  • Results: Rural primary practices have achieved PCMH status and Blue Quality Physician Program Recognition.
Granville Health System's Transitional Care Program
Added April 2017
  • Need: To reduce hospital admissions and improve health for North Carolina patients.
  • Intervention: Granville Health System's Transitional Care Program helps hospital and ED patients schedule follow-up appointments. In addition, the program provides home visits and safety checks.
  • Results: From 2015 to 2016, the number of patients receiving home visits increased from 30 to 86. In addition, 2016 saw a $73,595 reduction in inpatient readmissions and an $11,500 reduction in self-pay readmissions of patients with high-risk diagnoses.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Utah Rural Independent Hospital Network
Updated/reviewed March 2017
  • Need: To help ensure the viability of and improve quality at 9 rural, independent hospitals serving 11 Utah counties.
  • Intervention: A network organization was created to allow member hospitals to communicate, network, and undertake projects together.
  • Results: Members took advantage of cost savings, education, and networking opportunities through group projects and programs.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Plymouth Area Transitions Team (PATT)
Updated/reviewed November 2016
  • Need: To prepare patients with complex care needs for discharge from their hospital stay.
  • Intervention: A program was created to ease hospital discharges in the New Hampshire counties of Belknap, Grafton, and Merrimack.
  • Results: Readmissions have decreased in high-risk inpatients and a continuous care coordination focus has been established.
Wisconsin Quality Residency Program
Updated/reviewed July 2016
  • Need: To prepare quality improvement leaders for their roles in small rural hospitals or Critical Access Hospitals.
  • Intervention: A program to teach quality improvement methods, leadership and management skills, and networking support to hospital quality leaders.
  • Results: In the program's first year, it has enrolled 38 participants.

Last Updated: 8/14/2017