Grant awardees address rural health disparities.

One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the massive emergence of telehealth platforms. The majority of payers now cover telehealth across specialties and services, from annual health evaluations to urgent care, physical therapy, and mental health counseling.

Yet despite the popularity of applications, poor quality and limited wi-fi and broadband continue to hamper access to care for all who need it, especially patients and providers in rural regions of the country. New funding aims to enhance services and bridge gaps for these areas in dramatic need.

Sixty-one organizations across 35 states will share $12.7 million in federal funding through the Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program. The program will expand and improve health services for rural residents by supporting innovative and evidence-based approaches developed to meet the specific needs of local communities, including telehealth and other services. Funding was broken down into two distinct tracks:

  1. $3.7 million was awarded to the Healthy Rural Hometown Initiative Track. Awardees focus on the underlying factors that drive rural health disparities related to the five leading causes of avoidable death: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury/substance use disorder, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. This track will demonstrate the collective impact of programming through organizational partnerships that manage these conditions, address risk factors, and focus on prevention efforts.
  1. $8.9 million was awarded to the Outreach Track. These awardees will collaborate with local healthcare and social service organizations to deliver health services to underserved populations and those who may have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes, health disparities, and other inequities. Targeted innovative projects will focus on the social determinants of health (SDoH), chronic disease management and prevention, care coordination, telehealth, dental care, and behavioral health, to name a few areas. The goals for the Outreach Track encompass four action areas:
  • Expand delivery of healthcare services to include new and enhanced services exclusively in rural communities;
  • Deliver healthcare services through a strong consortium, in which every consortium member organization is actively involved and engaged in the planning and delivery of services;
  • Utilize community engagement and evidence-based or innovative, evidence-informed model(s) in the delivery of healthcare services; and
  • Improve population health, and demonstrate health outcomes and sustainability.

The full listing of awardees for both programs can be viewed at the HRSA website

Our Monitor Mondays Listeners Survey asked how our listeners grade the telehealth/virtual platforms used by their organization. As always, the results reflected the realities of the times, and are visible here.

Programming Note: Listen to Ellen Fink-Samnick’s live reporting of the social determinants of health (SDoH) every Monday during Monitor Mondays, 10 a.m. Eastern.

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