In 2014, roughly 47 million Americans lived in “dental health professional shortage areas,” a geographic area or a population group where there are 5,000 or more individuals per dentist so designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In six states, at least 20 percent of the population lives in shortage areas with little or no access to dentists. Dental care is the greatest unmet health need among children in the United States, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Every year, tens of millions of children, many of them from low-income families, go without seeing a dentist. The dental workforce traditionally has been limited to dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants, all of whom are licensed at the state level. However, Minnesota and Maine have authorized mid-level dental practitioners to expand the reach of the dental workforce.

While debate about improving the nation’s health care system continues, policymakers, health care experts and consumers essentially agree on three goals—improving patient care, creating healthier communities and reducing health care costs. States face huge challenges in developing successful strategies for broad population impact, and even bigger challenges for having a positive impact in rural areas and among certain disadvantaged population groups. Speakers addressed strategies for improving population health, increasing immunization coverage, and providing data to guide state decision-making.

Dr. James Mold believes the health care profession can learn a lot from farmers. When farmers have a problem, many times they’ll look to the network of cooperative extension agents spread across counties in a state. Mold believes creating a similar extension service network can provide that same support for health care providers.

What isn't new in the report on rural health care from UnitedHealth's Center for Health Reform and Modernization are findings that rural Americans are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions and have greater difficulty accessing quality health care.

More helpful are the recommended solutions to rural health issues. Fully 30 pages are devoted to review of existing models of rural health care delivery, the promise of rural telemedicine, and new models for high-performing rural provider networks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends six strategies to reduce the spread of HIV and STD's. Only one of 32 rural states has all six policies in place and less than one-third have four or more of the six recommended policies in place. 

Rural households have worse health outcomes than urban households. Access to care is limited due to less insurance coverage, financial hardship and geographical access to care. Highlighted state policies address increasing the health care workforce in rural areas.

 
Programs under federal health reform aim to tackle the persistent challenges of rural health disparities through expanded access and quality. New investments in rural primary care work force development and changes to rural hospital financing are part of the strategies to improve quality and reduce cost while improving health. State experts will describe how investments in telemedicine are bringing immediate specialized care to remote areas to save lives and reduce unnecessary care and costs. Hear about state successes in teaching patients to effectively manage chronic diseases, showing how integrating information technology, coordinating health providers, and incorporating evidence-based service improvement could diminish rural health disparities.
 

Programs under federal health reform aim to tackle the persistent challenges of rural health disparities through expanded access and quality. New investments in rural primary care work force development and changes to rural hospital financing are part of the strategies to improve quality and reduce cost while improving health. State experts will describe how investments in telemedicine are bringing immediate specialized care to remote areas to save lives and reduce unnecessary care and costs. Hear about state successes in teaching patients to effectively manage chronic diseases, showing how integrating information technology, coordinating health providers, and incorporating evidence-based service improvement could diminish rural health disparities.

Programs under federal health reform aim to tackle the persistent challenges of rural health disparities through expanded access and quality. New investments in rural primary care work force development and changes to rural hospital financing are part of the strategies to improve quality and reduce cost while improving health. State experts will describe how investments in telemedicine are bringing immediate specialized care to remote areas to save lives and reduce unnecessary care and costs. Hear about state successes in teaching patients to effectively manage chronic diseases, showing how integrating information technology, coordinating health providers, and incorporating evidence-based service improvement could diminish rural health disparities.

Programs under federal health reform aim to tackle the persistent challenges of rural health disparities through expanded access and quality. New investments in rural primary care work force development and changes to rural hospital financing are part of the strategies to improve quality and reduce cost while improving health. State experts will describe how investments in telemedicine are bringing immediate specialized care to remote areas to save lives and reduce unnecessary care and costs. Hear about state successes in teaching patients to effectively manage chronic diseases, showing how integrating information technology, coordinating health providers, and incorporating evidence-based service improvement could diminish rural health disparities.

Pages