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Join ORHPC in gathering information and making recommendations about rural health care in Minnesota. Your input will help shape state and national health care policies and activities.

Interested citizens, hospital administrators and staff, rural emergency medical services personnel, rural health care providers, and community organizers and leaders are encouraged to participate in one of three upcoming forums scheduled in Northeast Minnesota:

Tuesday, September 11, at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, Ely.
Wednesday, September 12, at Deer River HealthCare Center, Deer River.
Thursday, September 13, at the 40 Club Inn and Convention Center, Aitkin.

To attend a forum, please register here. For more information, contact Judy Bergh at (651) 201-3843 or

In July, the Governor's Health Reform Task Force gave preliminary approval to the Priority Recommendations presented by the Workforce Work Group. The workforce recommendations and the work group's presentation are available online through the Health Reform in Minnesota website.

Minnesota's e-prescribing efforts have resulted in a No. 1 ranking on a national survey (link no longer available). On July 31, Surescripts announced that the state achieved the highest rate of e-prescribing use in the nation during 2011 in its 7th annual Safe-Rx Awards. A new e-prescribing fact sheet from the Office of Health Information Technology provides more information on the status, requirements and benefits of e-prescribing, and resources available to address gaps.

The 2012 Minnesota e-Health Connectivity Grant Program for Health Information Exchange (HIE) will provide grant funding to expand community-based collaborative HIE efforts by providing funding to: a) assist health and health care providers to meet requirements for federal incentives for meaningful use of an EHR; b) expand health information exchange capability among health care providers and other trading partners to support care and/or public health; and/or c) increase the number of Minnesota pharmacies capable of accepting electronic prescriptions.

Eligible applicants include community HIE Partners (two or more health organizations collaborating to implement HIE for meaningful use transactions) or pharmacies not able to accept electronic prescriptions.

Grant awards range up to $25,000 per HIE partner site or $10,000 per pharmacy. Grant applications will be reviewed and evaluated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Visit the Minnesota e- Health Connectivity Grant for Health Information Exchange webpage for more information on this new funding opportunity. Contact Anne Schloegel at with questions.

Nursing Home Use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Health Information Exchange (HIE), 2011

nursing home use of EHR and HIE, 2011

The Electronic Health Record (EHR) adoption rate in nursing homes has increased significantly. In 2011, 69% of nursing homes are using an EHR system compared to 31.5% that had a partially or fully implemented EHR in 2007. Over 64% of rural nursing homes and 74% of urban nursing homes are using an EHR. Rural nursing homes are using more computerized provider order entry (CPOE) than urban counterparts, but have slightly less capability for health information exchange (HIE) (34% in rural; 42% in urban).

Rural defined as Rural-Urban Commuting Areas (RUCA) classification categories of isolated, small rural and large rural.

*Sources: (1) Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Health Information Technology, Minnesota EHR Nursing Home Survey (2011) and (2) Stratis Health, Minnesota Nursing Home Health Information Technology Survey Results (2008).

For more information, contact Kari Guida, MDH Office of Health Information Technology, or 651-201-4136.


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The 2012 Minnesota e-Health Connectivity Grant Program for Health Information Exchange (HIE) is currently accepting applications (see above for more detail).

Application materials for the Rural Hospital Planning and Transition Grant Program, which helps small rural hospitals preserve access or respond to changing conditions, will be posted on the ORHPC Grants and Loans page on August 6. Applications are due October 1.

The application window for the Minnesota Loan Forgiveness Program, which supports recruitment and retention of health care professionals in communities experiencing a shortage of primary health care providers, has changed: It is now September 1 through January 2. Applications will be available on the ORHPC Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs page starting September 1.

Applications for the State Loan Repayment Program (MN SLRP) will be available later in August. The program provides funds for repayment of qualifying educational loans of up to $20,000 annually for full-time primary care providers and up to $10,000 annually for half-time primary care providers. For fiscal year 2012-2013, an estimated 5-10 loan repayment awards will be available. Applications will be available on the ORHPC Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs pageand will be due September 28.

Be an ORHPC grant reviewer! Please contact Cindy LaMere at or 651-201-3852 with your name, profession, place of employment and contact information.


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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeks applications under a new grant program, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs): Testing Their Impact. The funding will support case studies of ACOs, particularly those that have developed among safety-net providers. Brief online proposals are due September 5. S


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The Program in Health Disparities Research will hold two sessions on bias in health care on August 15. Augustus White III, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medical Education and Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School, will present "Seeing Patients: Unconscious Bias in Health Care" from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in 2-690 Moos Tower, 515 Delaware St SE, Minneapolis. A community event, "What is Health Care Bias?," will be held 3:00-4:30 pm at the University Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), 2001 Plymouth Ave North, Minneapolis. To view Dr. White's presentation online live or after the event, visit (link no longer available).

The 2012 Community Mental Health Conference, "A Balanced Approach: The Pursuit of Wellness," will be held September 11-12 in Duluth. More information and registration is available online at the Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs (link no longer available).

Lead Series: The Power of Three, a one-day workshop from the National Rural Health Resource Center, will be held September 19. The training will focus on how to delegate effectively.

Learn how to develop a patient portal through the California Healthcare Foundation's online Patient Portals Resource Center. Geared toward safety-net clinics, the site walks through two stages of adoption: planning and implementation.

The MN Health IT Training Program (MNHIT) is accepting applications for the six-month, professional Health IT training program at Normandale Community College. Applications opened in July and will close when seats are filled.  Visit (link no longer available) and click on the Healthcare and Medical for more information.

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National Health Center Week (NHCW) will be celebrated August 5-11 across the country and here in Minnesota, where health centers serve roughly 190,000 individuals each year. To find local events, such as the Fremont Family Fun Festival in north Minneapolis on August 7 and the open house at Open Door Health Center in Mankato on August 8, stay tuned to the NHCW website.

Gary Wingrove, director of government relations and strategic affairs at Gold Cross/Mayo Clinic Transport, received the 2012 Calico Quality Leadership Award at the National Conference of State Flex Programs held July 10-11. The conference also featured presentations by Patricia Wangler, CEO of Essentia Health-Fosston, who spoke about their Community Health Needs Assessment and participated on a panel.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking additional comments through August 23 on proposed changes to its Rural Health Care program. Proposed changes will make greater use of funds not fully deployed in the past. Feedback is sought on a variety of topics, including the broadband needs of rural health care providers.

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Independently Owned Pharmacy Closures in Rural America, a policy brief from the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), finds 12 Minnesota rural zip codes went from one pharmacy in 2006 to none in 2011, and seven zip codes that had more than one pharmacy in 2006 but only one by 2011.

Health Disparities
•The Daily Yonder finds life expectancy for rural women is lower than the national average in four of five rural/exurban counties across the country, though most Minnesota counties rate above that average and none are below it.
•The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Finding Answers program has released a "roadmap" on how to design effective interventions to address disparities in five areas: HIV, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer and asthma.
Family physicians partner with community organizations and public health to address social determinants of health.

Oral Health
Article: Dental therapists bridge gap.

Medicare Meaningful Use Incentives: A Confusing Minefield for Critical Access from the National Rural Health Resource Center includes an explanation of changes recently announced by the CMS to allow Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to include the cost of capital leases for certified EHRs in their Medicare meaningful use incentive payments.
The New York Times reports on hospitals' fears that the Affordable Care Act will lead to cuts in aid for care to illegal immigrants.
Study: Despite popular theory, Medicaid patients visit ER mostly for emergencies.
Low satisfaction scores at safety net hospitals debated.

Study finds community health centers perform as well or better than private practices in key clinical measures.
The Atlantic and Forbes extol community health centers' cost and quality as key to effective Affordable Care Act implementation.
The State of the Safety Net 2012: The Economic Crisis and America's Nonprofit Clinics and Health Centers summarizes findings from a survey conducted by Direct Relief USA of its 1,092 clinic and community health center grantees.
Article examines the challenges of physician work satisfaction and hiring at community health centers.

The number of nurse practitioners will nearly double by 2025, projects RAND researcher. A related article discusses possible factors.
The New York Times examines projected shortage of physicians under health reform, while Vanderbilt University plans to develop tool to predict and map the state-level shortages of primary care providers.
Economic Research Service to conduct survey on the assets and investments of rural communities and their influence on recruitment and retention of rural health care providers and on the effects of rural health care provision on economic development of rural communities.

Health Information Technology
Report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Number and Characteristics of Providers Awarded Medicare Incentive Payments for 2011, includes differences between CAHs and acute care (PPS) hospitals; small and larger hospitals; and rural and urban providers.
Hospitals reaping financial benefits of telehealth.

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This month ORHPC welcomes Will Wilson as the new supervisor of the Primary Care and Financial Assistance unit.  Will comes to us from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), where his experience included Medicaid contracting, health care homes and care coordination policy.  Will also previously worked in the MDH Health Economics Program. He can be reached at 651-201-3842 or

Judy Bergh gave a presentation on Minnesota Trauma System Development and Performance Improvement at the National Conference of State Flex Programs held July 10-11 in Bethesda, Maryland. Craig Baarson also participated in the conference. Other presentations and handouts from the national meeting are available online.

Chris Ballard presented at two trauma Performance Improvement Forums in July: the Central Minnesota Regional Trauma Advisory Committee (CENTRAC) in St. Cloud and the Western Minnesota Regional Trauma Advisory Committee (WESTAC) in Detroit Lakes.

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The 2012 Many Faces of Community Health Conference will be held October 25-26, 2012. The event will explore ways safety net providers can improve care and reduce health disparities in underserved populations. This year's theme is "Stepping Up to Transform Health Care."

The 2013 Minnesota Rural Health Conference is tentatively scheduled for June 24-25, 2013 in Duluth.


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View online all previous issues of the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care publications.

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Minnesota Office of Rural Health and Primary Care
P. O. Box 64882
St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0882
Phone 651-201-3838
Toll free in Minnesota 800-366-5424
Fax: 651-201-3830
TDD: 651-201-5797

Our mission
to promote access to quality health care for rural and underserved urban Minnesotans. From our unique position within state government, we work as partners with communities, providers, policymakers and other organizations. Together, we develop innovative approaches and tailor our tools and resources to the diverse populations we serve.