Rural Health Plan

In January 2008 almost 100 people participated in the Minnesota Flex Program community/regional forums in Hibbing, Mahnomen, Marshall and Owatonna. The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC) sponsored the forums to gather information and recommendations for the 2008 Minnesota Rural Health Plan, which was completed in November 2008. Below is a summary of the plan’s goals. Read the entire plan (PDF: 133 pgs/5 MB).

Forum participants' observations and suggestions, focused on four key areas:

The presentation used at these meetings is online (PDF: 1MB/17pgs).


The Minnesota Rural Health Plan provides background information on Minnesota and its health care system, addresses access to hospital care in rural Minnesota, and describes Minnesota's Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program.

Developing a state rural health plan is a federal requirement for participation in the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (the Flex Program).

Minnesota's Rural Health Plan was first developed in 2004 by the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care in coordination with the Rural Health Advisory Committee, the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Advisory Committee, and a number of other groups and individuals across the state and updated in 2007-2008.

Below is a summary of the four overarching goals for Minnesota's Rural Health Plan distributed in November 2008. View the entire Rural Health Plan (PDF: 5MB/133pgs)

SUMMARY

The rural Minnesota health care landscape is changing. The population and workforce are aging, new immigrant and minority populations are growing, and many areas are facing shortages in the health care workforce. The rural economy is diverse, creating significant disparities from region to region. Financing of health care is often dependent on government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and MinnesotaCare. Ensuring quality health care involves both public and private sectors working together on local, regional, state and national levels. The goals of the 2008 Minnesota Rural Health Plan are broad based and meant to form a framework to ensure that rural communities have the structure, the tools and the resources to provide health care access and quality.

Goals:

  • Ensure a Strong, Integrated Rural Health Care System
  • Ensure a Sound Rural Professional Health Care Workforce
  • Foster Improvements to Rural Health Care Access and Quality
  • Support the Use of Health Information Technology and Telehealth Delivery in Rural Communities

Goal A: Ensure a Strong Integrated Rural Health Care System

  • Identify, assess and facilitate discussion of rural health care issues in order to develop policy and program improvement recommendations on prioritized issues.
  • Disseminate and encourage replication of promising practices and models for improvement in prioritized health areas.
  • Ensure continued successful implementation of Minnesota’s Medicare Rural Hospital
    Flexibility Program.
  • Support infrastructure of health care system.

Goal B: Ensure a Sound Rural Professional Health Care Workforce

  • Foster and continue multi-sector, multiagency collaboration aimed toward creative approaches to Minnesota’s health care workforce shortages.
  • Support health professional recruitment efforts.
  • Promote programs that encourage members of minority and immigrant communities to enter health care professions.
  • Promote health professional workforce retention.
  • Disseminate and encourage replication of promising education, recruitment and retention practices.

Goal C: Foster Improvements to Rural Health Care Access and Quality

  • Work with partner organizations to ensure rural representation in the development of local, state and national health care programs and policies and to maximize their effectiveness.
  • Seek and disseminate funding to address infrastructure needs of rural health care facilities.
  • Understand the rural health system’s financial condition and support strengthening it.
  • Provide continuing and enhanced technical assistance to hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other health care providers in order to strengthen the rural health infrastructure at the community level and improve its ability to meet community needs. 
  • Conduct high quality research and policy analysis on rural health issues and encourage those doing general health care research to include rural breakouts and comparisons.

Goal D: Support the use of Health Information Technology and Telehealth Delivery in Rural Communities

  • Disseminate and encourage replication of promising practices and models for planning and implementing health information technology and telehealth programs.
  • Support expanded broadband access necessary for telehealth use.
  • Seek and disseminate funding to support the adoption and effective use of interoperable electronic health records in rural health care facilities.