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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 2018
  • 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.

Promising Examples

Patient Centered Medical Home Practicum in Primary Care
Updated/reviewed May 2018
  • Need: Improvement in service quality and patient experience in primary care practices in North Carolina's Blue Ridge region and across the state.
  • Intervention: A practicum for healthcare management students to help rural practices achieve Patient Care Medical Home (PCMH) status and identify quality improvement needs and develop strategies.
  • Results: With the help of practicum students, rural primary practices have achieved PCMH status and Blue Quality Physician Program Recognition as well as tackled a number of important quality improvement projects.

Other Project Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Facing Diabetes: Quality Improvement in Rural South Dakota Project
Updated/reviewed June 2018
  • Need: To help adults and children in rural South Dakota prevent or manage their diabetes.
  • Intervention: The Facing Diabetes Project offered group medical visits for adults and provides prevention and education sessions for the local 4th to 5th graders.
  • Results: Many adults and children in the region feel better equipped to choose healthy foods, exercise regularly, and manage their stress: all factors that can help prevent diabetes or decrease its effects.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Utah Rural Independent Hospital Network
Updated/reviewed March 2018
  • 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 take 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 December 2017
  • Need: Prepare medically complex patients for care needs after hospital discharge.
  • Intervention: A program focused on hospital discharges and care transitions for patients located in three New Hampshire counties
  • Results: Decreased high-risk patient readmissions and establishment of continuous care coordination focus.
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.
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.

Last Updated: 8/20/2018