Thank you to the 211 individuals that attended the 14th Annual Forum last week, which marked the highest conference attendance in the event’s history. A special statement of gratitude is especially deserved for our sponsors Kaiser Permanente, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Caring for Colorado Foundation, The Colorado Trust, COPIC, and The Colorado Health Foundation.
We had two and half days filled with opportunity where we learned about: new impacts of ACA implementation, the latest on both State and Federal Policy; integration of physical and behavioral health; emergency preparedness; Rural Health Clinic (RHC) rules, regulations, and billing; telemedicine; workforce research; public health integration; best practice sharing; community impact and more… All of these topics influence the health of Coloradans and contribute to making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. Recently, The Colorado Health Foundation released Colorado’s 2013 Health Report Card, which looks at broad health areas entitled healthy beginnings, children, adolescents, adults and aging. Based on the report, we have our work cut out for us. Rural areas of the state, however, are leaders in working together to contribute to making Colorado number one, one community at a time.
As the Forum focuses on the rural safety net system, which is made primarily of clinics, we can confidently state that they are integral in achieving the state’s health status aspirations. One method we’re driving is CRHC’s Healthy Clinic Assessment (HCA), where RHC’s are provided a snapshot of day-to-day operations and internal processes. In the last year, RHCs have made an average of eight percent in HCA metric improvement, meaning that seven out of every 10 participating clinics are showing measurable improvement in their operational functions! The HCA process has allowed greater access and improved patient experiences. Another CRHC administered program that was highlighted at the Forum, iCARE (Improving Communications and Readmissions), had shown that participant facilities’ A1c rates have improved by 15.5 percent and readmission rates have decreased from five to four percent.
While demands are increasing for care coordination, systems/process change, health information exchange, and producing outcomes, rural communities are part of each and every one of these efforts. The road to become the healthiest state in the nation is not the easiest path, but knowing that our effort will ensure that future generations thrive makes it the most rewarding path.
I’ll end where the Forum began….with Effley Brooks, III, sharing the importance of the power of narrative as a way to connect, inspire, and teach. When you share your story as rural communities, remember the nearly 700,000 individuals that live in rural Colorado and that the past and the future of rural healthcare are based on community. Be sure to share not only the struggles rural areas are facing, but also create your narrative about the excitement, successes, and reasons why you’re proud to support rural communities in Colorado.