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.
Updated/reviewed September 2021
- 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.
Updated/reviewed December 2020
- 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 survey, 92% of miners reported their care as very good, while the other 8% reported it as good. The program has expanded to three other states.
Updated/reviewed January 2020
- 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.
Updated/reviewed December 2017
- 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 lay 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.
Updated/reviewed January 2021
- Need: Healthcare access in Central Appalachia for the medically underserved challenged by social and economic determinants of health, including transportation barriers, food insecurity, poverty, and lack of health insurance.
- Intervention: Three mobile clinics and 2 stationary clinics provide free health care for people in 16 counties in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
- Results: By leveraging technology and meeting patients where they are, Health Wagon provided comprehensive healthcare services — including specialty care — to 5,500 patients during 16,000 visit encounters in 2020.
Updated/reviewed October 2020
- Need: To reduce barriers to accessing healthcare for immigrant farmworkers in the rural areas of Vermont.
- Intervention: Bridges to Health uses care coordination and health promoters to reduce barriers to accessing healthcare on an individual level. The program offers targeted technical assistance to address systemic barriers at health access points in areas with high numbers of immigrant farmworkers.
- Results: Some barriers to accessing healthcare have been reduced or removed for immigrant farmworkers in certain counties.
Other Project Examples
Updated/reviewed July 2021
- Need: In rural Garrett County, 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 and 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.
Updated/reviewed March 2021
- 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 $31 million in dental care to more than 58,000 South Dakota children.
Updated/reviewed January 2021
- Need: A lack of basic medical, dental, and vision care for people living in isolated, impoverished, and underserved areas.
- Intervention: Free pop-up medical clinics that provide 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.
Updated/reviewed November 2020
- 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 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.
Last Updated: 9/20/2021