10 Ways to Improve Rural Resident Health in Maryland

A 2017 Report of the Workgroup on Rural Health Delivery to the Maryland Health Care Commission made many recommendations regarding ways to support and enhance healthcare in Maryland’s rural counties.

Improving dental care in rural areas and among vulnerable populations was one of the goals set out by a 2017 workgroup on rural health delivery.

Transforming Maryland’s rural healthcare system: A regional approach to rural healthcare was a report required by 2016 legislation of the General Assembly. The robust list of recommendations in the report include ways to:

  • Expand the rural healthcare workforce
  • Increase rural residents’ access to care
  • Fund economic development
  • Address vulnerable population needs

The recommendations were developed by a 35-member assemblage of state legislative leaders, state and local health leaders, Maryland hospitals and regional medical centers, representatives of healthcare providers, businesses, labor, consumers, and other stakeholder groups. The University of Maryland School of Public Health in partnership with the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at the University of Chicago conducted a study for the workgroup.

Here are 10 of the many recommendations included in the report:

  1. Establish a rural specialty care residency rotation at rural hospitals.
  2. Realign the Prioritization of the J-1 Visa Program to encourage foreign physicians that practice in rural areas.
  3. Establish a rural scholarship program for medical students and other healthcare
    professionals willing to practice in rural Maryland.
  4. Develop and fund additional rural college nurse practitioner and physician assistant programs.
  5. Create opportunities for dental and dental hygiene students to participate in an elective during their clinical training for a rural health dentist rotation.
  6. Recognize and reimburse EMS providers as healthcare providers.
  7. Explore the use of commercial transport, such as Uber and Lyft for non-emergent medical transportation.
  8. Incubate pilot projects in rural communities to support Rural Community Health.
  9. Enhance behavioral health services in the community through telehealth.
  10. Provide immigrants in rural Maryland access to preventive care and provide immigrant health education.

According to local health officers, few of the 2017 report’s recommendations received legislative attention.

Issues revolving around emergency medical services in Maryland’s rural and populous regions will be the subject of an educational session at MACo’s Winter Conference, December 4-6, 2019, at the Hyatt Resort in Cambridge, Maryland.

Not registered yet for the conference? Register now, and make your hotel plans soon!

For more information, see Transforming Maryland’s rural healthcare system: A regional approach to rural healthcare delivery