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Rural Health

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. Efforts to redesign care or 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 improve quality and health outcomes in rural communities 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.

  • Rural Health Value

    Stratis Health partners with the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis at the University of Iowa to facilitate the Rural Health Value initiative. We develop, test, and disseminate tools and resources, and provide technical assistance to rural health care providers across the country to help them participate in demonstrations projects to improve care coordination, enhance patient outcomes, and lower health care costs. Funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). More >

  • Health information technology and health information exchange

    Stratis Health leads rural health information technology (HIT) projects to improve health care quality, safety, efficiency, and costs. We co-led the Regional Extension Assistance Center for HIT (REACH) in Minnesota and North Dakota, which assisted 121 critical access and rural hospitals to achieve Stage 1 meaningful use. We’ve collaborated to launch a regional health information exchange that allows for accurate information sharing in a standard and secure manner, consulting services to a critical access hospital (CAH) HIT network, and educational consulting to a collaboration of health care organizations in northern Minnesota. Stratis Health developed the Health Information Technology Toolkit for Critical Access and Small Hospitals, to provide small rural hospitals with tools, tested in the CAH environment, to aid in planning for and making informed HIT choices. More >

  • Community transformation

    Stratis Health works with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) grantee communities to facilitate community-level coalitions which design and implement evidence-based strategies to significantly advance progress in preventing chronic disease, addressing health disparities, and building the evidence for prevention program. This supports the goal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Community Transformation Grant (CTG). The communities' action plans refer and connect patients and resources using HIT, data sharing, and redesigned workflows that incorporate tracking of patient referrals and feedback with local service agencies.

Rural hospital quality reporting and improvement

Through Rural Quality Improvement Technical Assistance (RQITA), a program of FORHP, Stratis Health provides technical assistance related to quality reporting and improvement to beneficiaries of FORHP quality initiatives across the country such as grantees, CAHs, and other rural providers.

We provide technical assistance and develop quality reporting and improvement resources to support CAH success in the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP), and implementation of chronic illness care initiatives by the 36 Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement Grantees across the country.

The Rural Quality Advisory Council informs our RQITA work.

Community-based palliative care

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. More >

Patient safety culture

For more than 10 years, Stratis Health has worked 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

Stabilizing then appropriately transferring patients to the next setting of care is a key function of emergency departments in small rural hospitals. This pilot project, completed in 2015, trained rural hospitals to collect information on emergency department transfer communication (EDTC), and use the data to improve quality of care, safety, and outcomes for patients transferred from their emergency departments. CAHs across the country use our EDTC tools and resources to support implementation of the EDTC measure as part of MBQIP.

The Emergency Department Transfer Communication 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 >

Contact Stratis Health for assistance with your quality improvement and patient safety needs.

Rural health An overview of Stratis Health’s work. (1-page PDF)