3 Steps for Understanding the Rural Landscape

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A chart outlining the landscape in rural health
See large image below.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural Americans are at greater risk of death from five leading causes than urban Americans. To help overcome this disparity, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in May 2018 launched its first Rural Health Strategy to improve access and quality of care for rural Americans. 

At the 2019 CMS Quality Conference, the Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) led a breakout session on Understanding the Rural Landscape.” Following are three steps that GHPC said will help ensure that health research, policies and programs are rural-relevant:

1Recognize the context of rural within the scope of your efforts.

This involves considering the scope of your effort and what types of communities might be affected, what definition you’re using to determine the rural designation of included communities and what attributes you can discern about the culture.

2Consider the influence of rural key factors in planning your efforts.

Key factors affecting rural communities include the economy, built and natural environments, education, insurance coverage, access, perception of the quality of rural health care, demographics, mindsets, behaviors and rural health disparities.

3Study the impact of macro-trends, system strengths and challenges.

Think about how trends, system strengths and challenges impact the design of your research, policy or programs.