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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.
Stratis Health is leading the Minnesota Rural Palliative Care Initiative, in partnership with Transitions and Life Choices, the palliative care program of Fairview Health Services, to establish or strengthen palliative care programs in rural Minnesota communities. We are assisting in developing programs that focus on improving the quality of life for patients facing chronic or life-threatening illness. We assist clinical and non-clinical professionals build skills to improve care planning, symptom management, communication, coordination, and delivery of care for those with chronic diseases and for those receiving hospice care. The first phase of this initiative includes 10 Minnesota communities. More >
Rural health technical assistance
Stratis Health is leading a rural health quality technical assistance pilot project, in conjunction with the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), with three communities across the country. A national advisory committee has identified areas of need for technical assistance in rural communities and will select one of the following for this project:
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. Through our 2005-2008 Medicare Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) contract, we worked other QIOs in South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska and the Sanford Health System to provide this assistance to rural hospitals. We currently are conducting similar work with a small group of CAHs in northwestern Minnesota, under a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) grant.
Emergency department measures project
Stratis Health, in conjunction with the MDH Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, developed a project for more than 20 Minnesota CAHs that focused on using the CMS Abstraction and Reporting Tool. The project is helping to improve the quality of care for emergency department patients with chest pain/acute myocardial infarction and to develop infrastructure to address these issues. It is building local experience and leadership for implementing standardized protocols.
Stratis Health led a national project, in partnership with Health Insight and the University of Minnesota, to develop quality measurement systems to be more relevant and useful to rural hospitals. This work established a more accurate way to demonstrate and improve the quality and safety of care delivered by rural hospitals. The project developed and field tested the measures that are now part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Emergency Department AMI/chest pain Outpatient Prospective Payment System measures.
Health information technology (HIT)
Stratis Health developed the Health Information Technology Toolkit for Critical Access and Small Hospitals, a toolkit to provide critical access hospitals with tools, tested in the CAH environment, to aid in planning for and making informed choices for HIT. The toolkit was originally distributed nationwide on CD through the Rural Hospital Flexibility program. More >
Health information exchange
Stratis Health worked on several rural Minnesota health information technology projects in order to improve health care quality, safety, efficiency, and costs. These included a regional health information exchange to allow for accurate information sharing in a standard and secure manner, consulting services to a critical access hospital health information technology network, and educational consulting to a collaboration of health care organizations in northern Minnesota.
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 (2-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