Program to Target Health Care Costs

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The Indiana Rural Health Association is launching a $1 million program designed to help lower health care costs. The organization says the effort, funded in large part by a federal grant, uses "health care coaches" to help drive down the cost of treating chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

April 28, 2014

News Release

Terre Haute, Ind. -- The twin goals: strengthen Indiana rural healthcare through primary care-based chronic disease management and lower healthcare costs. To achieve this, the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA) will develop and execute a new statewide initiative targeting specific common disease and health issues in small city and rural areas. To fund the initiative, IRHA will leverage a newly awarded $897,200 grant together with $144,900 of its own funds and in-kind contributions to train, empower and deploy professional healthcare coaches over a three-year period, according to Don Kelso, IRHA executive director.

"This new collaborative initiative will help Indiana healthcare professionals address two major chronic disease issues in rural Indiana: diabetes and congestive heart failure, which are the two most prevalent and costly chronic diseases among adults in rural Indiana," explained Kelso. The outcomes of the new initiative are expected to improve the physical health, behavioral health and overall quality of life for Hoosiers in rural communities and areas on a sustainable basis, he added.

The grant (No. D06RH26832) was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The federal grant is expected to cover about 86% of the expected cost of the new project, with IRHA providing the remainder in funds or in-kind contributions.

"This new targeted initiative is very exciting in that the program will help IRHA achieve the triple aim of better health, better healthcare, and lower healthcare costs in rural areas of Indiana," said Deena Dodd, director of the Indiana Statewide Rural Health Network (InSRHN). InSRHN will oversee the execution of the new statewide initiative and administer the grant.

According to Dodd, InSRHN, which is a 28-member network of rural healthcare providers, will train and deploy teams of specialized health coaches. InSRHN member hospitals will serve as the anchor sites for the program, and coaches will use evidence-based remote patient monitoring technology in primary care settings to help achieve the goals of the initiative.

"This initiative will also leverage Indiana's growing telemedicine capacity to deliver critical healthcare services remotely, thus efficiently giving better patient access to the state's excellent physicians and medical professionals," Kelso said. An assessment of behavioral health and overall quality of life in rural areas will be part of the three-year initiative, which will also help IRHA collaboratively build a sustainable program that will continue to serve rural Hoosiers beyond the scope and length of the federal grant.

Federal funding for the program begins in May.

About the Indiana Rural Health Association

The Indiana Rural Health Association was organized in 1997 and is a nonprofit organization working to enhance the health and well-being of rural populations in Indiana through leadership, education, advocacy, collaboration, and resource development. The strength of the organization is through the present diverse membership and the founding organizers who are committed to impacting the health of citizens through the identification of rural health issues and through advocacy roles in both the public and private sectors. IRHA membership is made up of 2,600 diverse individuals and organizations, making it the largest rural health association in the nation, and a nationally recognized leader in rural health care. For more information, visit www.indianaruralhealth.org

Source: Indiana Rural Health Association