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MDH has received a grant to improve blood pressure control in northeastern Minnesota, which has some of the highest hypertension rates in the state (27 percent compared to a statewide average of 21 percent). Through the award, MDH will collaborate with Stratis Health and Healthy Northland, a coalition of local clinics and community health boards covering seven counties, to improve team-based care, standardized procedures around measuring blood pressure, and use of electronic health records and health information technology. The grant is part of the Million Hearts Initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which seeks to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

The MDH Health Economics Program issued a new report, Minnesota Health Care Spending and Projections, 2011. The analysis finds, consistent with previous years, that health care spending per person in Minnesota is below national levels. Spending over the last two years represents the lowest year-over-year rates of growth since MDH began conducting the analysis in the mid-1990s. The report also finds that without a change in the drivers of spending or reforms to curb spending growth, Minnesota spending for health care would be expected to more than double over the next decade.

In response to public comments and its annual review of the Minnesota Statewide Quality Reporting and Measurement System (SQRMS), MDH announced changes to certain health care quality measures reported in the system. Visit the MDH website for a summary of the changes and more information about the rule governing the measures.


Graph - Electronic Health Record (EHR) adoption in Minnesota, by setting and location.

Source: Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Health Information Technology, 2012 clinic and hospital surveys and 2011 nursing home survey.

The rate of electronic health record (EHR) adoption is very high in Minnesota. Nearly all Minnesota hospitals have implemented EHRs, with little variation in adoption rate between critical access hospitals (CAHs) and non-CAHs. Among clinics, EHR implementation is strong in both rural and urban areas. Roughly two-thirds of nursing homes statewide have installed EHRs, although adoption is lower among rural nursing homes. 

Common barriers to adoption include implementation cost, staff to design and customize the EHR, trainers and computer/IT personnel. In recent surveys, rural settings were less likely than their urban counterparts to report cost concerns or support from administration and/or providers as a barrier.

For more information please visit the Minnesota e-Health website.


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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 Susan G. Komen Minnesota is accepting applications to its 2014 Community Grants Program for innovative programs in the areas of breast health and breast cancer education, screening, diagnosis, treatment, treatment support, survivorship and health care delivery/systems change. A funding priority area this year is northwest Minnesota, including applications from Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Beltrami, Polk, Pennington, Clearwater, Red Lake, Norman, Mahnomen and Hubbard counties. Applications due January 10.

The Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) is accepting applications to its FY 2014 Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program. A rural health network is defined as an organizational arrangement among at least three separately owned regional or local health care providers that come together to develop strategies for improving health services delivery systems in a community. Networks can include a wide range of community partners including social service agencies, faith-based organizations, mental health agencies, charitable organizations, educational institutions, employers, local government agencies or other entities with an interest in a community’s health care system. Applications due January 16.

Key Health Alliance, which is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help nonprofit rural hospitals, nursing homes, community and mental health systems, and EMS systems access capital for health information technology (HIT) expenses, will co-host a Minnesota HIT Funding Initiative Workshop (link no longer available) on January 28 at the College of St. Scholastica in Sartell. The workshop will provide information about USDA programs, funding options and other issues related to meaningful use in rural communities, as well as tips on developing a successful proposal. Learn more and register online by January 17 (link no longer available).

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs seeks applications for Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas. The program awards funding for organizations providing transportation to VA medical centers and other VA and non-VA facilities for medical care. Proposals should include innovative approaches to transportation, including community linkages and relationships, and how the applicant will work with state and local agencies. Applications due February 3.

The federal Bureau of Health Professions is accepting applications for Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention (NEPQR) Program - Interprofessional Collaborative Practice grants. The funding will support projects that create and/or expand interprofessional collaborative practice environments and team-based care. A funding preference will be given to projects that benefit rural or underserved populations or meet public health nursing needs. Schools of nursing, health care facilities and partnerships of the two are eligible. Applications due February 3.


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Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) will hold a stakeholder breakfast on January 8 in Shoreview showcasing ways Minnesota has achieved zero deaths on roadways during the last five years and the role of the statewide trauma system. Presenters include Chris Ballard, Trauma System Coordinator, and Tim Held, Deputy Director of ORHPC. Register online at the TZD website.

MDH and the Laboratory Interoperability Cooperative (LIC) will present a free online webinar to Minnesota hospitals to provide Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) Laboratory LOINC® Mapping Guidance. The LIC team has merged its live workshop with an online education portal to help hospitals connect and send reportable lab data to MDH (a requirement of meaningful use). The virtual training session will take place January 14 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Register on the LIC website by January 13.

The Rural Palliative Care Networking Group will feature a special presentation, "Symptom management at end-of-life," on January 28 from 10:00 a.m. to noon at Lakewood Health System in Staples. To register for in-person attendance or conference call, contact Matt Ellis by January 21 at or 952-853-8539.

Easter Seals, in partnership with the National Rural Health Association, has published a free guide to planning for transportation for those with newly acquired disabilities or other mobility-limiting medical conditions. Planning for Transportation after Medical Services Pocket Guide - Rural Edition, provides tips to help patients talk with their caregivers, physicians and health care providers.


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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it has set a goal of investing $50 million to increase access to mental health care in rural areas over the next three years. The funding will be used for the construction, expansion or equipping of rural mental health facilities and will be provided through the USDA's Community Facilities direct loan program.

Farm to Hospital, a program of the Minnesota-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), has released a series of new resources for hospitals and hospital systems interested in purchasing local, sustainably produced food.

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Commentary: The limits of medical care (The Rural Monitor).

Health reform
Bending the cost curve? Results from a comprehensive primary care payment pilot (The Commonwealth Fund).
• Taking care: Small rural hospitals face uncertain future under Affordable Care Act
(link no longer available) (McPhersonSentinel).

Health care overhaul has some clinics preparing for rush of new patients (Minnesota Public Radio).
Relief in sight for Federally Qualified Health Centers (HealthLeaders Media).
Disruptive innovators: Safety-net ACO (Healthcare Finance News).
In South Los Angeles, a bold plan to address health disparities (Forbes).

Rural/urban differences in inpatient-related costs and use (link no longer available) (North Carolina Rural Health Research Program).
Implications for beneficiary travel time if financially vulnerable Critical Access Hospitals close (North Carolina Rural Research Program).
Change in profitability and financial distress of Critical Access Hospitals from loss of cost-based reimbursement (North Carolina Rural Research Program).
Obstetric care may differ at rural versus urban hospitals, reports Medical Care (Newswise).

Oral health
'Dental therapy' takes root where dentists are scarce in Minnesota ( Minnesota Public Radio News).
Health beat: Dental therapists have CEO smiling (Star Tribune).

Mental health
Providing efficient, whole-person care: Integrated primary care consulting psychiatry toolkit (University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine).
More than half of Minnesota’s detox centers shut down (Star Tribune).
Psychiatrists less likely to take insurance than others (Reuters).
Telemental health in today's rural health system (Maine Rural Health Research Center).
The doctor is in...another town: Telepsychiatry brings care to people in rural Minnesota (Minnesota Medicine).
E.R. costs for mentally ill soar, and hospitals seek better way (New York Times).
Mental health care in rural settings (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Innovations Exchange).


Back to the future: Minnesota's rural health workforce shortages (Minnesota Medicine).
Commentary: No, there won’t be a doctor shortage (New York Times).
Medicaid growth could aggravate doctor shortage (New York Times).
Midwives for the dying (The Atlantic).
Interprofessional care coordination: Looking to the future (New York Academy of Medicine).
Country Doctor of the Year Robert Bösl: 'I was not motivated by dollars' (Parade Magazine).

Health Information Technology
Case studies of regional extension centers serving rural practices: Minnesota & North Dakota (University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center).

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Anne Schloegel has accepted a new position at MDH, moving in mid-January from ORHPC to the Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT), where she will be Minnesota e-Health Program Lead. Anne has long bridged ORHPC and OHIT projects, and we look forward to continuing to work with her.

This fall, ORHPC welcomed April Kane as its new Loan Forgiveness Administrator.  April comes to ORHPC from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Contact April at 651-201-3870 or


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The 2014 Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be held June 23 and 24 in Duluth.


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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

Our mission
To promote access to quality health care for all Minnesotans. We work as partners with policymakers, providers, and rural and underserved urban communities to ensure a continuum of core health services throughout the state.