In a state known for technical innovation, the California State Office of Rural Health (CalSORH) uses technology to keep rural providers in the state abreast of current issues. The SORH frequently hosts webinars on topics of current interest, in addition to in-person training workshops.

“We offer training on the topic of the day,” said Corinne Chavez, CalSORH Program Coordinator. “We definitely try to have a pulse on the emerging issues – so we see if we need to contract out to make sure that health care providers are getting the information they need.”

Topics covered in the recent past include Bringing the Community Apgar Program to California, Affordable Care Act implementation, Medi-Cal Billing and Reconciliation, and ICD-10. Last year, CalSORH hosted a multi-part webinar over three months on LEAN quality improvement training for rural clinics. LEAN is a methodology used by businesses to identify and eliminate waste and improve flow and efficiency; in hospitals, Chavez explained, it can be used to help streamline wasteful patient flow, or to look at how to treat patients in the ER.

“Our staff and partners meet to decide the training topics for the year,” Chavez said. “We project that there will be one to two emerging issues every year and set aside funds to target those issues. For example, when the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released new Meaningful Use changes, we decided to offer a training to announce the changes.” The result was the webinar, Meaningful Use: Stage 2 and 2014 Changes, held last month.

The webinars are advertised via listservs, email and the CalSORH web site, and information on them is distributed to various stakeholders in the state, including the Primary Care Office, Primary Care Association, the California Hospital Association, the California Association Rural Health Clinics and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Indian Health Program.

CalSORH also works closely with the DHCS Indian Health Program to address issues of importance to California Indian tribes and health programs.  For example, CalSORH sponsors quarterly Indian Health webinars on issues pertaining to Medi-Cal state plan amendments and waivers impacting Indians.   Additionally, CalSORH has held emergency preparedness trainings in collaboration with the DHCS Indian Health Program, and has offered trainings to Public Health Nurses working with the American Indian Infant Health Initiative.

CalSORH also offers in-person training workshops. In recent years, it has offered multi-day training on USDA funding for health IT, with subject experts from organizations including the California USDA regional office and the California Hospital Association.  In the beginning of the this year, CalSORH sponsored a full-day “train the trainer” workshop for hospital and clinic administrators and staff, to evaluate their health care systems, which it held with the National Center for Rural Health Works. With funding from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, CalSORH was able to offer the training free of cost.

CalSORH does not limit participation in its webinars to state residents, but has opened them up to others in Region D, especially for training on federal issues. It is part of what Chavez calls her office’s “ongoing collaboration.”  Chavez is proud of the partnership that CalSORH has with other state agencies and DHCS divisions. “We have a wonderful relationship with our state colleagues,” Chavez said.  “We try to piggyback when we can to make sure all rural providers receive relevant/real-time training.  CalSORH projects focus on collaboration.”



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