What started with a simple conversation between two programs within the same bureau, has turned into an annual rural health clinic statewide survey with an incredible response rate. Since 2013, the Kansas State Office of Primary Care and Rural Health has partnered with the Kansas Health Facilities Program to survey the more than 160 rural health clinics across the state. These two programs are co-located within the state health agency and were moved together into the Bureau of Community Health Systems in 2012, resulting in a great partnership.

The Health Facilities Program is responsible for licensing and/or certifying medical care facilities and non-long-term-care entities in Kansas. This includes inspecting facilities to assure standards are being met. The Health Facilities Program had been surveying rural health clinics for many years as a way to verify and update their contact information and upload it to an online database.

“I had been asked from an outside partner how often the list of Kansas rural health clinics was updated, so I simply asked the Health Facilities Certification Coordinator,” said Sara Roberts, Director, Kansas SORH. “I learned that the Coordinator sent out verification forms (aka surveys) each year because she found it important to have up-to-date information for the scheduling of surveyors. During our brief chat, I asked how difficult it would be to add a few questions pertaining to rural health and they were delighted to partner with us.”

The annual survey, conducted each spring, includes a standard set of questions asked by the Health Facilities Program, such as contact information, hours of operation and counties served. The State Office incorporates additional questions specific to the data needed for that particular year, including: technical assistance needs, professional organization membership, electronic health record implementation, community health assessment involvement, telemedicine use, health care services provided, workforce needs and recruiting plans.

The Health Facilities Coordinator disseminates the survey and collects responses, either by SurveyMonkey or emailing the survey form, over the course of a month. The response rate has been at least 95% each year, including the survey recently completed this spring. The impressive response rate can be attributed to the Health Facilities Coordinator providing consistent reminders and following up individually with each clinic who does not respond. Additionally, the Coordinator will reach out to the State Office, when needed, for assistance with contacting non-responding clinics.PPgraph

“The data we have gathered from the survey has been extremely helpful in so many ways.  It has helped inform our future program plan, giving us a better idea of how we should focus our energy; and it allowed us to maintain a comprehensive list of all Kansas rural health clinics, which has been a key resource utilized by several other partners.” said Roberts. “Reaching such a large number of rural health clinics in the state with a small staff is definitely a challenge, but partnering with Health Facilities to conduct this large-scale survey allows us to leverage resources. I believe this kind of partnership is an untapped resource in many states if they have a relationship with their Health Facilities Program.”

Does your SORH have a “Promising Practice”? We’re interested in the innovative, effective and valuable work that SORHs are doing. Contact Ashley Muninger at ashleym@nosorh.org to set up a short email or phone interview in which you can tell your story.

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