CEO Update: Celebrations!

May is a great month for celebration. The warm weather is returning, kids are graduating and the royal wedding took place.  I didn’t wake up at 5 am to watch the royal wedding, but I did record the festivities and I watched all of the coverage.  Why, you ask did I spend nearly five hours watching?  Well, everyone wants something to hope for, wants something to be part of that is bigger than themselves, and to see the fascinators (or hats, as we call them).  In rural health we also have something to celebrate this month, the release of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Rural Health Strategy.

The CMS Rural Health Strategy was informed by stakeholders and summarized into eight themes. These themes are outlined below and I’ve listed how CRHC is engaged in a number of them:

  1. Improving Reimbursement

Advocating for improvement in reimbursement is one of the key messages that CRHC shares both on a State and National level.  If you’d like to get more involved in CRHC’s policy and advocacy efforts, consider joining our Policy and Legislative Committee (meets bi-monthly during session) and please reach out to our Policy Analyst, Kelly Erb, ke@coruralhealth.org

  1. Adapting and Improving Quality Measures and Reporting

CRHC understands that current quality measures and reporting don’t always pertain to a rural environment and that reporting is burdensome.  As you may know, CRHC receives the HRSA FLEX Grant, which is used to support Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in quality, financial, and operational improvement.  For the quality portion of this grant, CRHC leads the Improving Communication and Readmissions (iCARE) Program.  This program was started in 2010 and continues today to help CAHs connect to state and national efforts around avoidable readmission rates and transitions of care.  CRHC continues to seek  grant funding to support rural clinic involvement in the program to address transitions of care, chronic disease, community collaboration and its impact around social determinants of health, and (new this year) patient and family advisory councils. The iCARE facilities readmission rate is 3%, a 35% decrease since 2013 and 74.5% of diabetic patients demonstrate good control of blood glucose levels.  If you are interested in learning more about iCARE  please reach out to Jen Dunn, jd@coruralhealth.org. To see the latest success from  rural communities involved, check out the iCARE infograph and the iCARE White Paper.  CRHC is involved in both state and national advisory groups and committees to represent the rural voice around quality, measures and reporting.

One of the advisory groups that I chair is the eHealth Commission and measures/reporting are part of the Roadmap Objectives

  1. Improving Access to Services and Providers
  2. Improving Service Delivery and Payment Models
  3. Engaging Consumers
  4. Recruiting, Training, and Retaining the Workforce

CRHC has always had a focus on rural provider workforce and we understand the impact of recruiting, training, and retaining.  Back in 2001, CRHC created a program called Colorado Provider Recruitment (CPR) as a way to formally help communities recruit and retain dedicated and qualified healthcare providers who are committed to practicing in rural and underserved areas. Since the start of the CPR Program we have recruited 180 providers and have a five year retention rate of 61%.  To learn more about the CPR Program and get involved please contact Sara Leahy, sl@coruralhealth.org.

  1. Leverage partnerships/Resources
  2. Improving Affordability and Accessibility of Insurance Options

CRHC’s mission is to enhance healthcare services in the state by providing information, education, linkages, tools, and energy toward addressing rural health issues.  Our vision is to improve healthcare services available in rural communities to ensure that all rural Coloradans have access to comprehensive, affordable, high quality healthcare.  We are excited for this new direction by CMS and are hopeful that positive change will take place because of the CMS Rural Health Strategy.



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