The goal of the Institute for Rural Health Improvement is to help communities improve health and health care by developing a strategic approach that strengthens local capacities to address community health needs and focuses on long-term sustainability. The Institute, through its public/private partnerships will provide tailored, technical assistance to communities throughout West Virginia.
The Institute for Rural Health Improvement envisions a state made up of communities that support everyone’s basic needs for safe, affordable and accessible food, water, housing, education, health care and recreational places; have thriving economies; promote policies and practices that create a culture in which every resident has an opportunity to make healthy choices; and place high value on supportive and cohesive families and neighborhoods.
The Institute for Rural Health Improvement will initially focus on a three-pronged strategy as it works with rural communities:
Population Health. Collectively engage the health system and community stakeholders in conducting a comprehensive community needs assessment and implementing activities stated in a community health improvement plan. Our approach focuses on achieving systemic improvements in community environments that are support individuals in making positive health decisions and strengthen the local health system’s responsiveness to the community’s health needs.
Community Health Needs Assessments - Our approach uses the community health needs assessment process to build community partenerships needed to address the high priority health needs in each community.
Community Health Planning - Conducting a community health needs assessment, without action is a very unsatisifying process. Thus the Institute works with community leaders to move beyond just identifying the problems, to develop and implement strategies to address the high priority issues identified in each community.
Collaborative Systems Redesign. The saying that life is a journey, not a destination, has tremendoud application to the challenge of building or strengthening alliances, whether the alliance is between similar organizations (e.g. two or more Local Health Departments) or between different organizations (e.g. Hospital and FQHC or FQHC and Local Health Department). Collaboration allows communities to solve problems that canno be solved - or easily solved - by sing organizations or jurisdictions. As both private and public health leaders and boards embark on a journey to restructure and re-engineer our private and public health systems in WV it is important to think about the process of how we acheive reform as well as the outcome. This is necessary because the outcome is not a single event, but a series of changes and improvements guided by a new emerging generation of health care leaders. The alliance building process used by the Institute emphasizes the steps needed to create trust and understanding for a board led and executive supported alinged private and public health systems throughout our state.
Primary Care and Specialty Physician Needs Assessments - Understanding your community's need for primary care or speciality physicians can assist community decision-makers in making decisions about sufficient health care resources needed in their communities and help build stronger local economies needed to ensure the sustainability and viability of local health services.
Economic Impact Studies - Through our partnership with the National Center for Rural Health Works, the Institute can provide local and state decision-makers with information about the economic impact of the health sector at the state, regional, county or zip code level.
Alliance Building - Each community/region in WV is unique, thus our approach is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Alliances can range from informal agreeements to service-related arrangements or shared functions to the creation of new entities through integration. The alliance building process used by the Institute emphasizes the steps needed to create trust and understanding between organizational leaders, policymakers and other stakeholders; and then to agree to common principles to be used in building alliances to address changes brought on by economic realities and the changing health system.
Strengthen Leadership Capacity. Too many times transformation in organizations focuses on technology and processes. Unfortunately, they frequently neglect the key ingredient for execution - the people in the organization. Thus, the Institute works with partners to build leadership and organizational capacity to assist local health care leaders to lead and sustain transformational efforts with their organizations and communities.
Leadership Development - The performance of any organization is the direct result of the collective performance of its people. Thus, the Institute partners with national experts who have been successful in developing health care leaders who can lead transformation in their organizations - and most importantly produce results.