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Rural communities have different health care needs and challenges than their metropolitan counterparts. Rural providers serve fewer people but have a greater proportion of elderly patients, who tend to have more advanced and chronic conditions. Rural communities face significant shortages in medical personnel and many small rural hospitals, the critical access hospitals, produce financial margins too low to support the investment needed to update facilities and technology to improve care. Quality improvement projects designed for large urban providers generally don’t fit rural providers. That’s why Stratis Health collaborates with other organizations to identify health care issues unique to rural providers and to develop technical assistance projects—tailored to the rural setting—to make improvements both in Minnesota and nationally.
Redesigning care delivery
Stratis Health assesses the impact of state and national policies on rural health and helps rural providers take advantage of opportunities to sustain and improve local services. In partnership with the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis at the University of Iowa, Stratis Health is developing, testing, and disseminating tools and resources, and is providing technical assistance to rural health care providers to help them participate in demonstrations projects to improve care coordination, enhance patient outcomes, and lower health care costs. More >
Stratis Health has pioneered processes for establishing and supporting palliative care services in rural communities. As often is the case in health care, the wealth of existing best practices were designed based on the large hospital model and did not translate well to work in smaller, rural communities. Recognizing this gap, Stratis Health led efforts to determine palliative care models that work in rural communities and to establish measures to understand how rural palliative care delivers value. Stratis Health supported 23 rural Minnesota communities, as well as three communities in other states, in exploring, developing, or expanding palliative care services for their community members. More >
Patient safety culture
Stratis Health recruits and works with rural hospitals and CAHs to assess and improve patient safety culture—an organization’s overall commitment to health and safety management. We support the hospitals in conducting the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality patient safety culture survey, analyzing and understanding the results, and making changes to systems, processes, and their organizational cultures to improve patient safety.
Rural emergency department transfer communication project
While emergency care is important in all hospitals, the emergency department is particularly important in rural hospitals where the distance to urban medical centers makes the effective triage, stabilization, and transfer of patients essential. For example, when a patient arrives at an emergency department needing time-sensitive care that includes transfer to a tertiary care center, the rural hospital’s ability to quickly assess, arrange, and get the patient out the door with the necessary and appropriate information can be of life or death importance.
Rural hospital need to understand how well they providing this important stabilize-and-transfer, care transition role. This pilot project trained rural hospitals to collect information on emergency department transfer communication, and use the data to improve quality of care, safety, and outcomes for patients transferred from their emergency departments.
This work further implemented the Emergency Department Transfer Communication Measures. These measures, endorsed by National Quality Forum in 2007, were developed and tested under a CMS special study completed in 2005 by Stratis Health and the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center. More >
National hospital improvement support center
Stratis Health provided training, technical assistance, and support to Medicare QIOs across the country in rural hospital improvement, serving as the Rural Hospital Improvement QIO Support Center from 2005-2008. Areas of focus included CAH data collection and reporting, clinical improvement in heart failure and pneumonia, and organizational safety.
Rural health An overview of Stratis Health’s work. (1-page PDF)
Contact Stratis Health for assistance with your quality improvement and patient safety needs.
If your organization has projects it would like to work on, contact us to discuss how we can work together to support initiatives related to rural health.
tel: 952-854-3306 | toll-free: 1-877-STRATIS