Workgroup Discusses Rural Health

The Maryland Healthcare Commission’s Rural Health Workgroup met last July. The workgroup members discussed support for a “Rural Community Health Complex” demonstration project, which would establish Rural Health Collaboratives (RHC) in the rural regions of the state and create a rural hospital program for rural communities.

The RHCs would be able to collect data for Community Needs Assessment, identify needs for the region, and establish where the pockets of special needs are located within the counties. Also, the RHCs could integrate clinical health needs with social, behavioral, and environmental needs.

RHCs could make it easier to collaborate with others to seek grant funds that are more likely won with a bigger service population. Also, the RHCs would enable entities to share services, staff, and then pool resources.

The model discussed envisions, establishing community health complexes in a five county region. Services could be co-located to create a one-stop-shop for patients even in smaller communities.

The first goal would be to ensure that all communities had access to essential primary care services. More sophisticated complexes would offer a broader range of services and would be deployed at FQHCs and medical office complexes.

Free Standing Medical Facilities (FMF), a new type of a small rural hospital plus regional medical centers could offer more advanced specialty care along with essential primary care services.

Linking the regions together would be a Patient Centered Support Hub with technology to support integration, coordination of care, then link to communities and social services. The services through the Hub would be made available through the CRISP integrated care network.

The workgroup has endorsed a special rural hospital designation for rural communities which would assist rural communities in aligning with phase II of the All-Payer-Model-Contract. The workgroup recommended that the program be established under HSCRC’s broad authority to establish reasonable reimbursement for Maryland hospitals.

Go to to view the workgroup’s update on their discussion.

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