Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Population Health Toolkit Released

In cooperation with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, the Population Health Toolkit provides visualizations of data from multiple sources that answer questions that rural hospitals and communities have about the health of their communities.

Are you looking for data to support an idea or story for your rural community?

Do you wonder about the relationship with poverty, preventable hospital stays, and access to mental health providers? Have you examined the socioeconomic status of your community related to well-being?

These are just a few questions you can explore in the Toolkit.

  • The Toolkit crosswalks multiple federal, publicly available datasets.
  • Data visualizations provide a concise and easy to understand story of your data.

Explore your data further by downloading the information to create your own analysis and graphs.


Compare Metrics From 12 Scenarios

The 12 scenarios listed below include benchmarks for hospital or county-level users to compare their metrics to state and national benchmarks. All scenarios include explanations, visualizations, and instructional videos on how to use and export the data. Be sure to view the introductory tutorial video on how to use the data in the Population Health Toolkit.

  • Diabetes Demographics
  • Discharge Instructions
  • Emergency Department Access
  • Injury Demographics
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Poverty, Preventable Stays, and Mental Health Shortage
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Socioeconomic Status and Well-being
  • Transportation and Health Status
  • Understanding of Care and County Race Demographics
  • Uninsured Rates, Behavior and Mental Health
  • Using Claims Data

Introductory Tutorial Video

Where are you in the journey towards population health?

There is so much more to the Toolkit. Complete the Critical Access Hospital Population Health Readiness Assessment to connect with tools and resources targeted towards rural health organizations’ unique strengths and needs for transitioning towards population health.

The toolkit is continually updated with new resources to help your facility or county navigate the journey towards improved population health along each milestone.


Questions? Want a demonstration?

Tracy Morton

Director of Population Health

(218) 216-7027

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,009,120 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

CDC Adds COVID-19 Vaccine-Specific Content for Providers and Public

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added vaccine-specific content to their extensive Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Vaccines gateway page. These new resources include information on vaccination planning, how vaccine safety will be monitored, and FAQs. These resources are intended to clarify how COVID-19 vaccine recommendations will be made and how the vaccines will be monitored for safety, to build trust and confidence in future COVID-19 vaccines. As more information becomes available and as vaccines become authorized or approved and recommended for use in the U.S. updates will be added.

New Framework for Transforming Oral Health Care

The DentaQuest Partnership wants to know if you are ready to transform the oral health care system? They are proposing an innovative new Framework that focuses on prevention and healthy outcomes, facilitates value-based payment models, and addresses the deep inequities in care and access. They are inviting oral health leaders to join along with 110 other oral health leaders that have contributed to this framework and are ready for this transformation. Click here to explore the Domains Framework and learn more.

45th Annual Great American Smokeout Coming Next Month

Since 1976, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has hosted the Great American Smokeout (GASO), a public awareness event to encourage people to quit smoking. GASO is celebrated on the third Thursday of November and this year ACS celebrates the 45th annual GASO on Thursday, Nov. 19. GASO is an opportunity to commit to a smoke- and tobacco-free life–not just for a day, but year-roundVisit the GASO website to access resources to make a plan to quit or to support your own Great American Smokeout® event.

ACS Guidance on Cancer Screening During COVID-19

Cancer prevention and early detection are central to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) mission to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. Early detection of cancer through screening reduces mortality from many cancers. Far too many individuals for whom screening is recommended remain unscreened, and this situation has been aggravated by the substantial decline in cancer screening resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the pandemic-related disruptions will likely exacerbate existing disparities in cancer screening and survival across groups of people who have systemically experienced social or economic obstacles to screening and care. In response to these challenges, the American Cancer Society developed the ACS – Resuming Cancer Screening During COVID-19 Toolkit to summarize the current situation and to provide guidance on how public health agencies, healthcare providers, and screening advocates across the nation can promote and deliver cancer screening appropriately, safely and equitably during the pandemic.

Recent CMS Releases Related to Telehealth and COVID-19

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a preliminary report providing Medicaid and CHIP data on telehealth use during the COVID-19 public health emergency through June 30. It provides a snapshot of services delivered via telehealth to Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries between March and June across various states and age groups, noting the significant increase in telehealth services compared to the same period last year. CMS also released a supplement to its State Medicaid & CHIP Telehealth Toolkit to help states navigate telehealth service delivery and reimbursement. The supplement’s updated FAQs include resources states may consider for FQHCs, specifically financing flexibilities in response to the pandemic.

If ACA Falls, So Could Coverage for Millions of Young People

Next month, the Supreme Court will consider whether to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA)–and with it, preexisting-condition protections. The Commonwealth Fund examines the potential impact on young people, who have made the largest insurance coverage gains of any age group since the ACA was passed. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the authors estimate 2.3 million people ages 20 to 39 who didn’t have prior underlying health conditions have tested positive for COVID-19. “Uncertainty about long-term health effects may be sufficient for health insurers to designate COVID-19 infection as a preexisting condition,” the authors write. “Some may go further and designate anyone who is tested regularly for COVID-19 as having a preexisting condition.” Read more.

Can COVID-19 Transmission Be Prevented by Mouthwash?

A new study conducted by researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine has found that a common dental item can inactivate human coronaviruses: mouthwash and oral rinses. Results were published in the Journal of Medical Virology, in which researches tested various oral and nasopharyngeal rinses–one percent solution of baby shampoo, a neti pot, peroxide sore-mouth cleansers and mouthwashes–to determine how well they inactivated human coronaviruses. Read the news release.

U.S. Reports A Record 500,000 Plus COVID-19 Cases Over Past Week

The United States reported a record of more than 500,000 new cases over the past week, as states and cities resorted to stricter new measures to contain the virus that is raging across the country, especially the American heartland. The record was broken Tuesday, even as the Trump administration announced what it called its first-term scientific accomplishments, in a press release that included “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC” written in bold, capital letters. Twenty-nine states reported their highest day of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

Provider Relief Fund Guidance Changes… Again

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) amended its Sept. 19 Post-Payment Notice of Reporting Requirements on Oct. 22. The key changes include:

  • Accounting Method. Organizations can use their normal method of accounting (cash or accrual basis).
  • “Lost Revenue” Definition. The definition of lost revenue has been modified to permit up to the amount of the differences between 2019 and 2020 actual patient care revenues.
  • Deadline. Organizations have an additional six months to expend funding–through June 30, 2021.
  • Direction. Providers are directed to use funds for expenses before applying PRF funding to lost revenue.

The amended reporting requirements guidance can be found here. For more information on the PRF reporting requirements update, see summary of this week’s All PA FQHC CEO meeting and BKD CPAs & Advisors article.