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Category Archives: Health

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

February 2, 2018

What’s New

NEMJ: The Challenging Quest to Improve Rural Health CareThe New England Journal of Medicine has a new article (subscription required) in its current edition that reviews the history of federal policy for rural health and examines current challenges that include widening disparities in life expectancy, sustainability of rural hospitals, tackling the opioid epidemic and the shortage of rural health workforce.

Teen Attitudes Toward Alcohol and Drug Use.  Last week was National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, an annual observance promoted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to foster a science-based understanding among teenagers of drugs, alcohol and addiction.  Since 1975, a NIDA-funded survey called Monitoring the Future has asked teens aged 12 to 17 about their attitude and behavior toward substance use.  The most recent survey showed that opioid misuse is at historic lows for teens but that vaping and marijuana use are more popular.  The findings on teen opioid use is similar to an October report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed a decline in past-month drug use among teenagers in rural areas.


Read “The Rural Connection” Winter 2018 Issue

February 2, 2018

Innovative Health Technologies

This issue of “The Rural Connection” focuses on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) efforts to provide innovative health care technology options for Veterans, especially in the area of telemedicine.

This issue highlights the innovative ways VA is working to increase access to care for rural Veterans. As Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, M.D. emphasized, “We’re removing geography as a barrier so that we can speed up access to Veterans and really honor our commitment to them.”

In case you missed it, last quarter’s issue featured some of the ways VA is restoring trust with Veterans and ways they relate to increasing access to care for rural Veterans.

As you will read throughout these articles, ORH and its partners are committed to make a healthy difference in the communities in which Veterans work and live. Our ultimate goal remains to increase access to care and services for Veterans who reside in rural and highly rural communities.

New Medicare Card Webinars with Updated Information

February 2, 2018
New Medicare Card Webinars with Updated Material since 1/30/2018 webinar

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Kansas City Regional Office invites you to attend the New Medicare Card Webinars. Recent legislation requires CMS to remove Social Security Numbers from all Medicare cards to address the current risk of beneficiary medical identity theft, and to replace the cards with a unique number for each Medicare beneficiary. These webinars will address the new card design, the timeframe of the mailings and scenarios, what Medicare beneficiaries should do to ensure they receive their new card, and partner resources to help with education.

The goal of these free webinars is to educate those who serve people with Medicare and their caregivers so they can be a valuable resource on this initiative. Please share this invite with your partners.

There are multiple webinars so you can choose one that best works with your schedule. All webinars will provide the same information. CMS will host separate webinars and informational sessions for people with Medicare and their caregivers.

February 8, 2018 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

February 16, 2018 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

February 21, 2018 1:00 PM CST – 2:00 PM CST

Rural Health Information Hub

January 31, 2018

View the Rural Health Information Hub updates

Rural Health Research & Policy Centers

January 29, 2018

View the Research Alert.

Patient Safety Awareness Week is March 11-17 – Find the best tools here!

January 29, 2018

View the information.

Telehealth news from the Kansas, Missouri & Oklahoma

January 29, 2018

American Heart Month: Remote patient monitoring and heart health
Keeping hearts healthy is the focus of February’s American Heart Month, and telehealth is well-positioned to lend a hand. Digital stethoscopes and mobile echocardiograms make it easier for cardiologists to diagnose and treat patients in remote regions. Additionally, patient monitoring devices can collect and relay actionable data from a patient’s home to health care providers in real time. But like many other specialties, cardiology and stroke care are both victims of the unrequited love between telehealth potential and telehealth policy.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and experts have predicted a shortage of cardiologists in the next decade that will affect rural areas the most. The American Heart Association stresses the vital role telehealth can play in reducing morbidity and mortality from the disease by alleviating the maldistribution. These underserved areas have the potential to benefit greatly from telecardiology and telestroke care, but they are often the least equipped with technology and training.

In order for telecardiology and telestroke services to be effective, the AHA emphasizes that “programs need timely data, appropriate staff and a feedback loop to patients with sufficient empowerment to understand and implement instructions.” Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices are promising tools to fit these needs in prevention, emergency care and transitional care. In one study, an RPM transitional care program for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure patients reduced 30-day hospital readmissions by 50 percent when compared to the control group.