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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

November 27, 2017

What’s New

The Underestimated Cost of the Opioid Crisis.  In a new report out this week, the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) says that previous cost estimates focused mainly on healthcare costs and underestimated losses from overdose fatalities.  The CEA reports that a recent study found opioid-related deaths in 2014 were 24% higher than officially reported and cost more than $431 billion in fatality costs.  In a separate and unrelated report, the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services named curbing the opioid epidemic the third Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing HHS.  Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report showing that rural areas experience a higher rate of death from drug overdose.

Funding Opportunities

Training Nurses for Primary Care – January 29.  This four-year training program from HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) will prepare nursing students and current registered nurses (RNs) to practice in community-based primary care teams, with an emphasis on chronic disease prevention and control and including mental health and substance use conditions.  Eligible applicants include accredited schools of nursing, health care facilities such as Critical Access Hospitals, or a school-facility partnership.  Recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals is particularly challenging in rural areas, but training in a rural area makes staying there more likely. BHW will hold a webinar for applicants on Tuesday, November 28 at 2:00 pm ET.  See link for more information.

Training and Enhancement – Primary Care Physicians and PAs – January 30.  Public or nonprofit hospitals, community-based and tribal organizations join schools of medicine and physician-assistant training programs in eligibility for fellowship in Primary Care Training and Enhancement programs for community-based primary care physicians and/or physician assistants.  This opportunity encourages applicants to work with National Health Service Corps (NHSC) sites and would allow graduates of the program to receive priority status for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program.  HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce will hold a webinar for applicants on Tuesday, November 28 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm ET.  See link for more information.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

November 20, 2017

The latest edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Rural Health Series looks at racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes for people living in rural areas.

According to data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, racial and ethnic minorities fare worse than non-Hispanic whites in rural areas across many indicators of health, and each population faces specific challenges, for example:

  • American Indian/Alaskan Natives reported higher rates of depression;
  • Asians and Pacific Islanders experienced challenges in access to health care;
  • Non-Hispanic blacks have higher rates of overweight and severe obesity.

The study reports that “unhealthy behaviors and social circumstances contribute proportionately more to premature death than does inadequate health care” and also reveals difficulties among non-Hispanic whites in these areas. But few studies have examined racial/ethnic disparities within rural communities and the report concludes that more research is needed to understand the interaction between race/ethnicity and geography in affecting health outcomes.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health took the lead on this report, and they point to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services, known as CLAS, as a resource to help improve the quality of services provided to all individuals, reduce disparities, and achieve health equity.

CMS also launched a new website on rural health and health equity initiatives.  And you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for A-Z Health Topics Impacting Rural Americans.

View the full report:  Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities Among Rural Adults – United States, 2012-2015

Rural Health Research & Policy Centers

November 20, 2017

View the Research Alert.

4th Annual Missouri Telehealth Summit

November 17, 2017

The Fourth Annual Missouri Telehealth Summit will take place January 31 & February 1, 2018, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Jefferson City, Missouri.

As always, this summit brings together providers, payers, and policy-makers. Our keynote speaker is Yulun Wang, the founder and CIO of InTouch Health.  We are highlighting rural hospital telehealth financial barriers and incentives and how telehealth improves access and capacity for care.  We will have a legislative and regulatory panel and an evidence panel.  We are asking for poster submissions to display during the summit.  And we are asking for volunteers to provide a 3-5 minute description of your ‘cool’ telehealth project!

Also, new this year, we will have an exhibit hall so that you can interact with telehealth vendors and a Pre-Summit Workshop, Telehealth 101, on January 31, 2018.

Link to Missouri Telehealth Summit Web Page for registration: https://musomcme.com/18mts/

Poster submissions please e-mail to:
Rachel Mutrux, mutruxe@health.missouri.edu;
Deepika Gupta, dg3f4@mail.missouri.edu;
Mirna Becevic, becevicm@health.missouri.edu

Cool telehealth projects please e-mail to:
Rachel Mutrux, mutruxe@health.missouri.edu;
Lindsey Beckmann, Beckmannli@health.missouri.edu

Rachel Mutrux
Sr. Program Director, Missouri Telehealth Network
Director, Show-Me ECHO
State Director, Heartland Telehealth Resource Center
mutruxe@health.missouri.edu
ph: 573-884-8814
http://medicine2.missouri.edu/telehealth/
www.showmeecho.com
http://heartlandtrc.org/

Today is National Rural Health Day

November 16, 2017

One in three Veterans who rely on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health care call a rural community home. Today marks the seventh annual National Rural Health Day – an opportunity to recognize those Veterans who thrive in rural areas as well as the dedicated health workforce that supports them.

Rural Veterans enjoy less traffic, lower cost of living and greater connection to their communities. However, rural health care provider shortages and geographic barriers continue to pose healthcare access challenges. There are more than 10,000 rural Health Professional Shortage Areas across the country – about twice as many than in non-rural areas – leaving both rural Veterans and providers without crucial primary or specialty health care support.

The Office of Rural Health (ORH) identifies and supports innovative solutions to address these challenges. In fiscal year 2017 alone, seven of ORH’s Enterprise-Wide Initiatives provided training to rural health care teams, serving 51 VA medical sites nationwide. These initiatives combine in-person and virtual training to boost local providers’ skills in relevant specialty fields such as geriatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and psychiatry. Through targeted training, trusted local clinicians fill specialty care gaps and better address the unique needs of the Veterans they serve.

The following programs have bolstered workforce development year after year and collectively trained almost 3,000 clinicians and staff in 2017:

The Geriatric Scholars Program addresses geriatrician shortages through targeted education for rural health care providers, clinical pharmacists, social workers and psychologists. This initiative incorporates educational courses, virtual mentoring by specialists and clinical training exercises to increase geriatric care expertise throughout the local care team.

Clinical Skills Training in Women Veterans Health Care addresses the women’s health shortage across rural VA facilities. Rural clinicians who participate receive onsite education from a virtual training team in order to provide fundamental women’s care to Veterans.<

Simulation Learning, Education, and Research Network Rural Coordinators program provides a simulation-based training infrastructure to enable rural clinicians to improve their technical skills without leaving their rural VA facility.

In addition to these training-based solutions, other means to tackle the rural health care provider shortages include:

  • Better promoting rural-specific financial assistance or loan forgiveness programs: Many recent medical or nursing school graduates face significant loan burdens. Developing and highlighting rural-specific financial assistance or loan forgiveness programs can help encourage young talent to pursue a career in rural communities.
  • Increasing cooperation and coordination between community-based providers and VA medical facilities: Sharing resources, from patient data to high-demand specialist providers, will help satisfy unmet patient needs and expedite the delivery of care.
  • Enhance recruitment at the community level: Providers tend to practice in the type of community in which they were born. Improving recruitment at the community level – as early as the high school years – can help both VA and community providers establish a skilled and committed local health care workforce.

This National Rural Health Day, ORH asks you to think about how your work can improve a rural Veteran’s access to health care. To learn more about how to recognize National Rural Health Day, join the conversation online with #PowerOfRural and visit https://www.ruralhealth.va.gov to get information on ORH’s mission and programs.

Missouri Telehealth Summit

November 16, 2017

Fourth Annual Missouri Telehealth Summit

The Fourth Annual Missouri Telehealth Summit will take place January 31 & February 1, 2018, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Jefferson City, Missouri.

As always, this summit brings together providers, payers, and policy-makers. Our keynote speaker is Yulun Wang, the founder and CIO of InTouch Health.  We are highlighting rural hospital telehealth financial barriers and incentives and how telehealth improves access and capacity for care.  We will have a legislative and regulatory panel and an evidence panel.

We are asking for poster submissions to display during the summit.  And we are asking for volunteers to provide a 3-5 minute description of your ‘cool’ telehealth project!

Also, new this year, we will have an exhibit hall so that you can interact with telehealth vendors and a Pre-Summit Workshop, Telehealth 101, on January 31, 2018.

Link to Missouri Telehealth Summit Web Page for registration: https://musomcme.com/18mts/

Poster submissions: Please e-mail
Rachel Mutrux, mutruxe@health.missouri.edu
Deepika Gupta, dg3f4@mail.missouri.edu
Mirna Becevic, becevicm@health.missouri.edu

Cool telehealth projects: Please e-mail
Rachel Mutrux, mutruxe@health.missouri.edu
Lindsey Beckmann, beckmannli@health.missouri.edu

USDA RD News

November 16, 2017

View the news bulletin.