Your SORH Environmental Scan

eScan – What’s going on in your space

An Environmental Scan (eScan) is the identification and monitoring of national, state, and local factors that may impact the long-term viability of rural communities. In short, “what’s going on in your space.”

This is a suggested guide of resources that can be helpful for new and seasoned SORH staff. It is not suggested that you complete all the steps in one sitting.

Engaging these resources can range from familiarizing yourself with their programs, signing up for a newsletter, joining their membership, to reaching out for collaboration or training. Your level of engagement may differ on your SORH needs and bandwidth.

This is a living document with a non-exhaustive list of resources that can be referenced. The information and connections included below are reviewed regularly.

Step 1: Cultivating the Rural Health Landscape

We suggest that new SORH staff start here. This section has resources required for the SORH grant and key peers and organizations with which we recommend SORH have a relationship.

+ Key Resources

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP): Health Resources and Services Administration: Created to advise on healthcare issues impacting rural communities.

National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH)

National Rural Health Association (NRHA): A national non-profit membership organization whose mission is to provide leadership on rural health issues.

Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub): The RHIhub is your guide to improving health for rural residents—they provide access to current and reliable resources and tools to help you learn about rural health needs and work to address them.

    • RHIhub Updates and Alerts
    • RHIhub This Week: Receive weekly email updates with the latest news, funding opportunities, publications, model programs, new Rural Monitor articles, and more.
    • Daily and Weekly Custom Alerts: Select the issues and types of information most relevant to you and receive notification of all RHIhub additions on those issues by email, daily or weekly.

Rural Health Research Gateway: The Rural Health Research Gateway provides easy and timely access to research conducted by the Rural Health Research Centers, funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

+ Connecting with Peers

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO): non-profit organization committed to supporting the work of state and territorial public health officials and furthering the development and excellence of public health policy nationwide.

Primary Care Office (if not part of SORH): PCOs are units of state or territorial governments that provide healthcare workforce and shortage designation analysis, technical assistances, and liaison, with federal, state and local partners.

State Department of Health (if not part of SORH)

State Flex Office (if not part of SORH)

State Hospital Association

    • Newsletter
    • Find your point of contact

State Rural Health Association: There are currently 44 states represented by a rural health association. We encourage you to learn more about your state rural health association.

  • Newsletter
  • Verify membership
  • Find your point of contact

State SHIP Office (if not part of SORH)

    Step 2: Growing Rural Health Partnerships

    Once SORH have a good understanding of those resources available in Cultivating the Rural Health Landscape, we recommend growing additional relationships that are key to strong networks and resources.  

    + National Information Sources

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): the nation’s leading science-based, data-driven, service organization that protects the public’s health.

    Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS)

      • Open Door Forums
      • Sign up for email updates. Select your categories.
      • Regional CMS Offices: The Regional Offices of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are the agency’s state and local presence. Regional field staff work closely with beneficiaries, health care providers, state governments, CMS contractors, community groups and others to provide education and address questions.

    Flex Monitoring Team (FMT): Consortium of researchers from the Universities of Minnesota, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Southern Maine, funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to evaluate the impact of the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant Program. The Flex Monitoring Team also operates and maintains the Critical Access Hospital Measurement and Performance Assessment System (CAHMPAS) for easy access to financial, quality, and community measures.

    HRSA Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (HRSA IEA): HRSA Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs serves as the principal Agency lead on intergovernmental and external affairs, regional operations, and tribal partnerships.  HRSA IEA extends the reach of HRSA programs by leveraging the knowledge of the national and regional landscape, proximity and networks of local contacts in states, tribes, and territories.

      • Find your Regional Representative
      • When should you contact HRSA IEA?
        – When you want to know more about HRSA programs or initiatives.
        – When you need contextual information about the state, local, tribal, and regional landscape that may impact your stakeholders.
        – When you are looking for technical assistance, resources (including funding opportunities) or new partners.

    National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services Publications: A list of policy briefs, reports, recommendations, resource papers, and other publications.

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

    Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC): The goal of TASC is to provide direct and timely information that is easy for Flex Programs to use. With a comprehensive network of rural health resources, TASC offers a variety of communication tools, education and technical assistance services.

    USDA Rural Development: Committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. They help rural Americans in many ways through their programs.

    Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Rural Health (ORH): Working through its five Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers as well as partners from academia, state and local governments, private industry and non-profit organizations, ORH strives to break down the barriers separating rural Veterans from quality care.

    + State Information Sources

    In-state Health Professions schools (medicine, dental, PA, NP, EMS, etc.)

    State Chronic Disease Prevention (CDC-funded): Chronic Disease Prevention Office funds and works with partners to prevent chronic diseases, encourage healthy habits, and help people with chronic diseases prevent complications.

    State & Regional Public Health Association(s)

      • Newsletter
      • Find your point of contact

    State Area Health Education Center (AHEC)

      • Newsletter

    State Health Foundations

    State Health Improvement Plan

    State Office of Health Equity /Disparities

      • Varies by state, look to your state directories for connections
      • Is also sometimes part of the Office of Minority Health

    State Primary Care Association: Primary Care Associations (PCAs) are state or regional nonprofit organizations that provide Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) to safety-net providers. This T/TA is based on statewide and regional needs to help health centers improve programmatic, clinical, and financial performance and operations

      • Newsletter
      • Find your point of contact

    State Public Health Institute (if applicable)

    State & Regional Public Health Association(s)

      • Newsletter
      • Find your point of contact

    State Office for Rural Prosperity/Opportunity (if applicable)

    Step 3: Building Rural Health Knowledge

    The following potential partners and resources are not as high of priority as those in Cultivating and Growing but are still important and key resources for your SORH.  

    + Keeping up with Policy and Regulation

    Federal Register: “Website to make it easier for citizens and communities to understand the regulatory process and to participate in Government decision-making.”

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH): OASH oversees the Department’s key public health offices and programs, a number of Presidential and Secretarial advisory committees, 10 regional health offices across the nation, and the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

    National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP): a nonpartisan organization committed to developing and advancing state health policy innovations and solutions. NASHP provides a unique forum for the productive exchange of strategies across state government, including the executive and legislative branches.

      • Sign up for newsletter (link at bottom of webpage).

    National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL): bipartisan organization providing states support, ideas, connections and a strong voice on Capitol Hill.

    National Governor’s Association (NGA): NGA offers an array of services to help collaboratively tell the states’ story, identify priority issues and deal with matters of public policy and governance at the state, national and global levels.

    NOSORH Committees

      • Joint Committee on Rural Emergency Care (JCREC): This committee is dedicated to advancing policy to ensure access to timely, affordable, and high-quality emergency care services in rural America.
      • Policy Committee: This committee ensures resources are provided to build support of the organization’s advocacy priorities. The committee tracks legislation of interest to the members and provides an opportunity for members to bring these issues forward for action by NOSORH. The Policy Committee informs the Program Analysis and Response Committee of emerging issues to ensure education or response to other relevant policy issues beyond its advocacy priorities.
      • Program Analysis and Response Committee (PARC): This committee provides proactive scanning and assessment of regulatory changes that impact programs important to SORH and their stakeholders.

    + Keeping up with Program Associations

    Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW): The Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) improves the health of people who need it most. They strengthen the health workforce and connect skilled health care providers to communities in need.

    National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers: Collaborative of 12 regional and 2 national Telehealth Resource Centers, committed to implementing telehealth programs for rural and underserved communities. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Health Resources and Services Administration, they provide timely and accurate information on telehealth across the nation.

    National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC): Dedicated to improving the delivery of quality, cost-effective healthcare in rural areas.

    National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC): Works closely with chartered State and Regional Primary Care Associations (PCAs) to fulfill their shared health care mission and support the growth and development of community-based health center programs.

    National AHEC Organization: The AHEC mission is to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals via strategic partnerships with academic programs, communities and professional organizations.

    National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP): organization of physicians and other professionals providing leadership and fostering excellence in EMS.

    National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO): The lead national organization for EMS, a respected voice for national EMS policy with comprehensive concern and commitment for the development of effective, integrated, community-based, universal and consistent EMS systems.

    + Regional Organizations and Initiatives

    Appalachian Regional Commission (if applicable): The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.

    Delta Regional Authority (if applicable): The Delta Regional Authority works to improve regional economic opportunity by helping to create jobs, build communities, and improve the lives of the 10 million people who reside in the 252 counties and parishes of the eight-state Delta region.

    Northern Border Commission (if applicable): A Federal-State partnership for economic and community development within the most distressed counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.

    Western Governors Association (if applicable): A non-partisan organization of all 22 United States governors (representing 19 U.S. states and 3 U.S. territories) that are part of the Western region of the nation. The WGA addresses important policy and governance issues in the West, advances the role of the Western states in the federal system, and strengthens the social and economic fabric of the region. WGA develops policy and carries out programs in the areas of natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and state governance. WGA acts as a center of innovation and promotes shared development of solutions to regional problems.