WASHINGTON, DC – The State of Maryland has established the Mid-Shore Rural Health Collaborative
(RHC), aimed at improving health in five counties on the State’s Eastern Shore, where access to coordinated and integrated healthcare and social services is limited. The Public Health Foundation
(PHF) has been selected to serve in the Collaborative’s Executive Director capacity, supporting RHC operations, convening community leaders, and facilitating consensus-building among a dynamic group of collaborative members.
The RHC is charged with improving access and delivery of health services for residents of five rural counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to improve health outcomes. The counties of Talbot, Dorchester, Caroline, Kent, and Queen Anne’s are all represented in the RHC, which operates under the Maryland Department of Health
As the Executive Director of the RHC, PHF is helping to bring together and facilitate collaboration among this diverse group of stakeholders as they explore innovative solutions to improve population health outcomes in the region. PHF’s knowledge of population health innovations, best practices, and keen understanding of social determinants of health will contribute to the rich collaboration of this group of 27 representatives from hospitals, health departments, emergency services, behavioral health, social services, and other community members. Uniquely equipped with experience working with hundreds of health departments across the country, PHF effectively supports health system transformation by facilitating collaboration in the rapidly changing health landscape.
“Bringing together members of the Mid-Shore community to make important and informed decisions is critical to the ongoing transformation of the health system in Maryland,” said Ron Bialek, PHF President. “Our support of the Rural Health Collaborative and its goals draws on PHF’s experience as an innovator in identifying solutions that align multiple stakeholders to improve population health and offers an ideal opportunity to help transform the way clinical care and social services are provided and coordinated to meet the health needs of the community.”
The RHC, established in 2018, held its third meeting on February 6, 2019 at the Queen Anne’s County Department of Health
in Centreville, Maryland. The group welcomed presentations by representatives employing innovative solutions in the area of non-emergency healthcare transportation and representatives of Care Transformation Organizations
(CTOs) that work with local primary care providers to transition to new standards targeted at improving the health outcomes of Maryland residents.
Access to reliable transportation is critical to improving health outcomes. Each year, 3.6 million Americans miss at least one medical appointment due to a lack of transportation, leading to higher risk of complications in chronic illness, increased hospital readmissions, medication noncompliance, and disruption in the continuity of care.1
RHC members heard from Angelo Edge, President and CEO of Aetna Better Health of Maryland
, about his organization’s solutions for ensuring that their members do not miss healthcare appointments. “There is a significant opportunity to make a profound impact,” said Edge. He went on to share Aetna’s successes in reducing member medical costs and emergency department visits through its transportation initiatives, offering options for the RHC to consider.
Strategies proposed by the RHC must align with Maryland’s Total Cost of Care Medicare Waiver
, which includes the redesign of primary care delivery and payment to improve health for all Marylanders. CTOs have been set up under the Maryland Primary Care Program
to assist primary care practices in meeting requirements of care transformation. Twenty-five CTOs have been approved within the state, with nine of them providing services in the Mid-Shore counties to enhance care coordination for Medicare beneficiaries.
To support the RHC in its decision-making, two workgroups focused on integrating clinical and social support services and improving rural public transportation are diving deeper into these topics. These workgroups are meeting regularly to identify problems and current resources, determine what is desired and feasible, and recommend actions to improve services in the area.
The RHC will next meet on April 8, 2019, where it will continue its efforts to identify best practices and evidence-based recommendations that meet the health needs of Mid-Shore residents. Meetings are open to the public and held at the Queen Anne’s County Department of Health in Centreville, Maryland.
About Maryland’s Mid-Shore Rural Health Collaborative
The Mid-Shore Rural Health Collaborative (RHC) brings together Talbot, Dorchester, Caroline, Kent, and Queen Anne’s Counties in Maryland to improve the access and delivery of health services in this rural area; develop one or more innovative models for achieving that purpose; align strategies with Maryland’s Medicare Waiver; select a site(s) for the Rural Health Complex model developed; and demonstrate improved health outcomes for the population. For better health outcomes of the low income and most vulnerable populations, the RHC will address the integration of clinical and social support services as a part of the model. For more information, visit https://health.maryland.gov/mcrhc
About the Public Health Foundation
The Public Health Foundation (PHF) improves public health and population health practice to support healthier communities. PHF specializes in convening stakeholders within and across sectors to improve health; develops effective resources and tools; and delivers training for health agencies, organizations, and individuals to improve performance and community health outcomes. For more information, visit http://www.phf.org