Appalachia Data Portal and Readmissions Explorer Launched

The Appalachia Data Portal was created as an online tool for exploring demographic, education, income, and health disparities for the 420 counties in the Appalachian region. The tool allows users to visualize economic, demographic, and other types of data using maps, graphs and trend charts. It provides multiple methods for exploring population indicator disparities throughout the Appalachian region, and is a helpful tool for identifying health disparities and bright spots within the region.

Continue reading “Appalachia Data Portal and Readmissions Explorer Launched”

2013 Pennsylvania State Health Assessment Released

The Bureau of Health Planning is pleased to announce the release of the 2013 Pennsylvania State Health Assessment. This comprehensive assessment provides a “one-stop” summary of information on health status, health risks and healthcare services in Pennsylvania. It will support the department’s and our partners’ work in developing priorities and policies, garnering resources and planning actions to improve the population’s health.

View Assessment

Muncy Valley Hospital Receives Award for Quality Improvement in Rural Health

University Park, Pa. – Muncy Valley Hospital, in Muncy, Pennsylvania, part of the Williamsport, Pennsylvania-based Susquehanna Health received the 2014 Louis A. Ditzel Award for Quality Improvement in Rural Health from the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) at a ceremony at the hospital on Jan. 7, 2015. The award was accepted by Ronald Reynolds, hospital president, and C. Cynthia Whipple, director of nursing.

Read More

Surgical Services in Critical Access Hospitals, 2011

This brief describes the types and volume of major surgical services provided in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) across four regionally representatives states in 2011. Of the surgery volume performed in CAHs, on average 77% was performed on an outpatient basis and 23% inpatient. Operations on the musculoskeletal system, the eye, and the digestive system accounted for 67% of all surgical procedures performed in CAHs. Most reports of surgery volume in CAHs focus on inpatient procedures, thus missing a significant portion of the surgery volume that CAHs perform. CAHs offering outpatient procedures that complement inpatient surgical capacity are providing the communities they serve significant and valuable services through access to both convenient and emergent surgical care services that lessen many of the health care burdens associated with travel for surgery and follow-up care.

Continue reading “Surgical Services in Critical Access Hospitals, 2011”

Advancing the Transition to a High Performance Rural Health System

Despite decades of policy efforts to stabilize rural healthsystems through a range of policies and funding programs, accelerating rural hospital closures combined with rapid changes in private and public payment strategies have created widespread concern that these solutions are inadequate for addressing current rural health challenges. This paper presents strategies and options that rural health providers may use in creating a pathway to a transformed, high performing rural healthsystem, which are then categorized into four distinct approaches. We elaborate each approach, and discuss a related set of public policy implications that should be considered when following each strategy. We follow the discussion of policy implications with four demonstration ideas that reflect the essential elements of each strategic approach in achieving the aims of a high performing rural healthsystem.

Continue reading “Advancing the Transition to a High Performance Rural Health System”

Use and Performance Variations in U.S. Rural Emergency Departments: Implications for Improving Care Quality and Reducing Costs

The purpose of this brief is to describe the geographic variation in the use of EDs for non- emergent health conditions across rural and urban areas as well as by U.S. Census Regions. Potential risk factors including patients’ socioeconomic characteristics, geographic location and level of primary care resources are identified. Quality of care indicators, limited to wait times and the length of the visit for rural and urban EDs, are also addressed.

Continue reading “Use and Performance Variations in U.S. Rural Emergency Departments: Implications for Improving Care Quality and Reducing Costs”

Rural Health Clinic Readiness for Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model both reaffirms traditional primary care values such as continuity of care, connection with an identified personal clinician, provision of same day- and after-hours access and also prepares providers to succeed in the evolving health care system by focusing on accountability, continuous quality improvement, public reporting of quality data, data exchange, and patient satisfaction. However, little is known about the readiness of the over 4,000 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to meet the PCMH Recognition standards established by the National Council for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This policy brief reports findings from a survey of RHCs that examined their capacity to meet the NCQA PCMH requirements, and discusses the implications of the findings for efforts to support RHC capacity development.

Continue reading “Rural Health Clinic Readiness for Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition”

Developmental Strategies and Challenges of Rural Accountable Care Organizations

This Policy Brief shares insights into initial strategic decisions and challenges of four Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) with a rural presence, one from each census region (West, Midwest, Northeast, and South). Semi-structured on-site interviews were conducted with ACO leaders and key stakeholder group representatives (e.g., board members, physicians). The four ACOs were formed as a step toward a value-driven rural delivery system, recognizing that ACO participation may not have a short term return on investment. Common value-enhancing strategies included care management, post-acute care redesign, medication management, and end-of-life care planning. The four ACOs also emphasized the importance of access to data for population health management, care management, and provider participation. While several challenges need to be addressed, these insights can inform development of other rural ACOs.

Continue reading “Developmental Strategies and Challenges of Rural Accountable Care Organizations”