The NRHA Annual Meeting, held May 8-11th in New Orleans, was packed with the latest resources, tips, and tricks for providing quality, sustainable rural health care in a rapidly changing healthcare environment. NOSORH staff was proud to represent the fifty State Offices of Rural Health at the meeting.

Tammy Norville, NOSORH Technical Assistance Director, along with Greg Wolf of LilyPad (POND) and Joyce Hospodar of the Arizona Center for Rural Health, held a breakout session on Performance Measurement and Improvement Strategies for Rural Health Clinics. The session included an overview of POND, a data repository for Rural Health Clinics that has focused on financial and operational data, which added five rural-relevant quality measures in March. Hospodar provided an overview of Arizona’s statewide use of POND to begin RHC data collection.  Norville also noted other informative session that provided insight into the work NOSORH does to build capacity of SORHs to improve health of rural communities:

In her keynote presentation, Rebekah Gee, MD, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, described the plight of reduction of OB services in rural communities across the state. She also spoke about Health Department paradigm shifts (not providing direct services!), and the new and innovative work being done with global budgeting.

Jac Davies, from Northwest Rural Health Network, and Jodi Bezold, from Newport Hospital and Health Services in Washington State, presented a breakout session on how to implement a sustainable care coordination program. Bezold said they are building a care coordination program in her CAH. They began relatively small with their Medicaid population, she said, and are slowly growing other payer groups.

Using data from Medicare cost reports, John Gale, senior research associate at the Maine Rural Health Research Center, discussed financial benchmarking in determining potential sustainability for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). He also presented a national snapshot of RHC financial performance across peer groups.

“The NRHA Annual Conference was almost an information overload, but tempered with great food, great fun, and great folks!” Norville said.


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