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AHRQ helps set action agenda for improving rural health care

A recent conference supported by the Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality focused on ways to improve the quality of rural health care. A group of experts, including Carole D. Dillard, M.A., of AHRQ, identified issues, barriers, and opportunities related to bringing rural health care into the mainstream of the national quality "revolution," which, for the most part, has bypassed the 20 percent of Americans who live in rural areas with limited resources. The experts developed an action agenda to improve rural care quality in five areas: performance improvement, innovation dissemination, external levers, workforce, and measurement.

Recommendations for action stressed rural participation in the national quality process, Internet use by rural providers, workforce development, and finding ways to increase access to resources of all types. Specific recommendations included fostering development of rural consortia by funding agencies; relevant quality measures for the rural environment; technical assistance capacity to enable small organizations to develop quality/performance improvement programs; appropriate financial incentives; leadership capacity via simulation training and credentialing; and database development.

For more information, see "A framework and action agenda for quality improvement in rural health care," by Forrest W. Calico, M.D., M.P.H., Ms. Dillard, Ira Moscovice, Ph.D., and Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., in the Summer 2003 Journal of Rural Health 19(3), pp. 226-232.

Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 03-R047) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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