Skip to main content
Rural Health Information Hub

Formerly the
Rural Assistance Center

RSS

Healthcare Access in Rural Communities 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.

Effective Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Regional Oral Health Pathways
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: To address the oral health needs of low-income uninsured and underinsured residents in rural Appalachia.
  • Intervention: An oral health education program was implemented in Appalachian Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
  • Results: This program has increased oral health visits in the area and has provided residents with valuable information on oral health resources and services.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration New Mexico Mobile Screening Program for Miners
Added December 2016
  • Need: To increase access to medical screening for miners in New Mexico.
  • Intervention: A mobile screening clinic with telemedicine capability screens miners for respiratory and other conditions.
  • Results: In a recent survey, 92% of miners reported their care as very good, while the other 8% reported it as good. Since 1989, the program has served 6,685 miners.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Northern Dental Access Center Patient Support and Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: To connect low-income people in rural northwest Minnesota to dental care and support services in order to address barriers to care.
  • Intervention: Partners work together to provide patient transportation, care coordination, and insurance navigation and enrollment.
  • Results: Patients accessing support services are more likely to complete dental treatment. Over 1,000 people a year have been assisted with Medicaid enrollment, and reported use of the emergency department for dental pain has been reduced.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy The Health Wagon
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: Healthcare access for the medically underserved in Central Appalachia.
  • Intervention: A mobile clinic that provides free healthcare in 11 rural Virginia communities.
  • Results: The Health Wagon provides comprehensive healthcare services to over 4,000 patients annually.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Bridges to Health
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: To reduce barriers to accessing healthcare for migrant farmworkers in the rural areas of Vermont.
  • Intervention: Bridges to Health uses care coordination and health promoters to reduce the barriers to accessing healthcare and provides services and education.
  • Results: Some barriers to accessing healthcare have been reduced or removed for migrant farmworkers in certain counties in Vermont.
Patient Care Connect
Added September 2016
  • Need: Cancer patients living in the Deep South encounter multiple barriers in accessing regular cancer treatment.
  • Intervention: The University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center developed a program that uses patient navigators to support and direct patients to appropriate resources to overcome barriers to accessing care.
  • Results: The program has become a model for improving cancer care quality, decreasing unnecessary utilization (ER visits and hospitalizations), removing barriers to care, and enhancing patient satisfaction.

Other Project Examples

Remote Area Medical®
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: A lack of basic medical care for people in isolated, impoverished, and underserved areas.
  • Intervention: Free mobile medical clinics that aim to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing basic dental, vision, and medical care through a highly efficient system that serves as many patients as possible, utilizing a corps of volunteers made up of licensed medical professionals and laypeople.
  • Results: Community members in rural and other underserved areas are provided with necessary healthcare and health education, including dental and vision services, at no cost to the patients or taxpayers.
Smiles for Life
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: Oral healthcare for low-income adults and children unable to obtain dental care in the Mid-Ohio Valley of West Virginia.
  • Intervention: Public health dental hygienists act as gatekeepers, screening low-income clients and placing them with area dental providers who volunteer, from their private practices, to provide most-needed dental treatment.
  • Results: Reduces the number of emergency department visits for dental pain and infections and provides a safety net for those unable to afford dental treatment.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Western Appalachian Health Care Access Consortium: The Bridge Program
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: Access to primary medical, dental, and mental health services for rural Appalachia Kentuckians.
  • Intervention: Community Health Workers provide outreach, education, navigation, and care coordination services to 5 counties in the Western Appalachian area of Kentucky through The Bridge Program.
  • Results: Emergency room visits have decreased throughout the course of the program and referrals to healthcare services have increased. Increases in self-efficacy and decreases in A1c levels have reached statistical significance.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Connecting the Chronically Ill
Updated/reviewed August 2017
  • Need: Baker County, Florida, had many residents living with chronic illnesses and limited access to healthcare services.
  • Intervention: Connecting the Chronically Ill was started to provide Baker County's most vulnerable, chronically ill residents with medical services and health education.
  • Results: The program provided services to almost 400 residents and health education to nearly 900 residents, and it helped reform the area's judicial system for inmates with substance abuse and mental health issues.
Mobile Women's Health Unit
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths for the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) female population, and those living in remote areas have difficulties getting screening mammograms.
  • Intervention: The Great Plains Area Indian Health Service Mobile Women's Health Unit provides mammograms to women on multiple reservations across four states.
  • Results: Approximately 1,000 women are screened annually for breast cancer in the mobile unit.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Something to Smile About: Preventive Dental Care for Garrett County
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: In the very rural Garrett County in Maryland, a 1998 community survey found that 41% of kindergarten students had untreated dental decay, and many dentists in the area were not willing to see patients with medical assistance or state health insurance plans.
  • Intervention: In 1999, the Garrett County Health Department started the Something to Smile About program to improve access to dental care as well as to help dentists negotiate higher reimbursement rates from managed care organizations.
  • Results: The program established a community dental clinic, provided care to thousands of individuals, and negotiated 30% higher rates for dental service reimbursement.
Women's Way
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in North Dakota. While breast and cervical cancer have high survival rates when detected early, many women are not able to access life-saving cancer screenings due to cost and lack of insurance.
  • Intervention: Women's Way of North Dakota was created to help women find a way to pay for breast and cervical cancer screenings.
  • Results: From the program’s beginnings in 1997 through May 2017, Women's Way has provided new first-time screening services for nearly 14,500 women and helped hundreds of women with positive results find treatment.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration West Virginia Community Access Program
Updated/reviewed May 2017
  • Need: Safety net organizations providing healthcare for the uninsured and underinsured in rural south central West Virginia were experiencing fragmented, inefficient care delivery issues.
  • Intervention: Multi-community program for efficient coordination and integration of healthcare services for uninsured and underinsured patients.
  • Results: Safety net providers improved overall quality of care for uninsured and underinsured patients by resource sharing, and improved efficiencies in coordinating patient care.
Delta Dental Mobile Program
Updated/reviewed January 2017
  • Need: Lack of access to oral healthcare for children from limited-income families in the rural and urban areas of South Dakota.
  • Intervention: Delta Dental of South Dakota launched the Delta Dental Mobile Program in 2004 to expand access to oral healthcare services to children throughout the rural state.
  • Results: The Delta Dental Mobile Program has provided over $16.6 million in dental care to more than 33,400 children in 81 different South Dakota communities.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Miles of Smiles Mobile Dental Unit
Updated/reviewed December 2016
  • Need: Children in low-income families living in a 7-county region of southwest Missouri lacked access to dental care.
  • Intervention: A mobile dental unit was created to expand access to dental care for children in the region.
  • Results: The Miles of Smiles mobile dental clinic provides comprehensive dental care to children throughout the 7-county region.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Giles County Health Network (G-NET)
Added September 2015
  • Need: To create accessible and equitable healthcare access for low-income and uninsured residents in Rural Appalachia.
  • Intervention: A community-based health network was formed to expand healthcare throughout Giles County, Virginia.
  • Results: By improving the access and quality of healthcare services, collaboration among local providers, and cultural competence, the number of medical visits to low-income patients increased by 36%. The number of behavioral health visits to low-income patients increased by 106%.

Last Updated: 11/13/2017