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Rural Veterans and Access to Healthcare 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

Patient Care Connect
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.
Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) Program
Added July 2016
  • Need: To provide high-quality mental healthcare to rural veterans.
  • Intervention: The Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) program, stationed at the Portland VA Medical Center, reaches rural veterans in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington via telehealth.
  • Results: From 2010 to 2013, 1,754 veterans received diagnoses, therapy, medication management, and other mental health services.

Promising Examples

STAIR (Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation)
Updated/reviewed December 2017
  • Need: To increase access to telemental health services for rural women veterans with a history of trauma.
  • Intervention: STAIR (Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation) is a 10-week program designed to reduce PTSD and depression symptoms and increase emotional regulation and social functioning in clients.
  • Results: Therapists reported that clients attended more sessions when offered via teleconferencing, and clients reported satisfaction with the program.

Other Project Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy ASPIN Network's Community Health Worker Program
Updated/reviewed June 2018
  • Need: Improved approach in addressing the behavioral health and primary care disparities of Indiana‚Äôs underserved rural counties by increasing access through health insurance enrollment and providing health literacy education.
  • Intervention: A network was established that dually trained community health workers (CHW) and certified health insurance enrollment navigators to aid in behavioral health and primary care services.
  • Results: This year, ASPIN trained 49 CHWs, cross-trained 191 behavioral health case managers as CHWs, and 175 individuals in the Indiana Navigator Precertification Education.
Tele-ICU for Veterans
Added June 2018
  • Need: To enhance care for patients in critical condition.
  • Intervention: Two VA facilities in Oklahoma and Ohio are connected through audiovisual equipment using smart technology in order for providers to monitor patients and consult with clinical staff at the bedside.
  • Results: From June 2017 to March 2018, there were 5,155 video assessments performed on ICU patients at the Oklahoma facility by tele-ICU staff. This resulted in over 140 hours of patient care time.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Implementation of a Nursing Veterans' Initiative to Transform Education (INVITE)
Added May 2018
  • Need: To support rural veterans pursuing a career in nursing.
  • Intervention: The INVITE program improved the curriculum and reworked admission requirements to better support veteran students' experiences in the College of St. Scholastica undergraduate nursing program.
  • Results: The number of veterans pursuing nursing has more than doubled since program implementation, and all students have reported an increased interest in serving rural communities.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Indiana Veterans Behavioral Health Network
Updated/reviewed April 2018
  • Need: To address the lack of mental healthcare options for rural veterans.
  • Intervention: A telebehavioral health hub network was created to connect community mental health centers to the VA Medical Center.
  • Results: To date, 2,071 IVBHN appointments have been made, saving veterans time and money.
Telehealth Collaborative Care
Added July 2017
  • Need: To increase access to specialty care for rural veterans with HIV.
  • Intervention: The Telehealth Collaborative Care (TCC) study connects these patients with HIV specialists via telehealth and works to create shared care relationships with primary care teams in rural areas.
  • Results: TCC provides HIV specialty care to 600 rural veterans in Georgia and Texas.
Community Clergy Training to Support Rural Veterans Mental Health
Updated/reviewed May 2017
  • Need: To educate rural clergy and chaplains about the ways they can help improve veterans' access to physical or mental healthcare by referring veterans to available resources.
  • Intervention: Trained VA Chaplains and U.S. Army Reserve Chaplains provide free interactive training sessions to rural community clergy partners.
  • Results: Since 2010, more than 4,000 clergy members, chaplains, behavioral health professionals, and others supporting rural veterans have participated in a Community Clergy Training Program (CCTP) event.
Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center Rural MOVE! Outreach Program
Updated/reviewed May 2017
  • Need: To bring weight management education to veterans living in rural Virginia.
  • Intervention: The Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center created an outreach team to hold classes in rural communities that focus on physical activity, healthy eating habits, and making healthy behavioral choices.
  • Results: The outreach initiative is the only VA-sponsored weight management program of its kind for rural communities in the Virginia region, and in 2015, they reached over 900 participants.

Last Updated: 6/7/2018