National Rural Health Day: Addressing the Needs of Under-resourced Communities to Make Care More Accessible
National Rural Health Day on Nov. 16 raises awareness of the unique healthcare challenges faced by rural communities, including care accessibility issues and a lack of providers. Centene is committed to improving access by delivering innovative solutions to under-resourced populations.
Digital innovation is key to facilitating the reach of education to our members and helping to reduce access challenges by enabling them to more easily connect with providers. In 2022, Centene partnered with various telehealth vendors to provide over 13 million virtual visits to members.
Virtual care resources provide 24/7 services to complement in-person obstetrical care, enabling access to care wherever the member resides. TeleBehavioral Health increases access to behavioral health services by extending services to rural and other areas with shortages of providers, allowing members to receive treatment safely and in the comfort of their own homes.
Centene and our health plans consistently find new ways to develop trusted partnerships to help improve healthcare in rural America, including:
- Wellcare and Galileo — a team-based medical practice offering full-spectrum care — recently expanded their existing partnership to include the opportunity to serve members in Maine who have difficulty connecting with primary care physicians in rural areas. Wellcare and Centene’s Government Affairs team successfully facilitated passing of legislation to allow nurse practitioners to provide home-based, primary care services.
- Health Net donated a refrigerated food truck to the Community Action Partnership of Kern Food Bank for its emergency food network. The food bank carries nutritious staples to communities across Kern County, California, including rural areas.
- In 2023, Buckeye Health Plan awarded two $250,000 grants to improve rural health in partnership with Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, the third award since the partnership began in 2021. The funds support Ohio University’s Family Navigator Program and the Weitzman Institute’s Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Health Outcomes).
- The Family Navigator Program employs nurses to help pregnant and postpartum women access services to reduce risk factors that impact birth outcomes.
- Project ECHO connects local healthcare providers to medical specialists through teleconferencing to bring their expertise to Ohio’s rural and under-resourced communities.
- Nebraska Total Care and the Centene Foundation partnered with the Health Center Association of Nebraska on Project Access. The project’s partnership with
Federally Qualified Health Centers expands the use of technology and increases the number of healthcare providers delivering care to the most remote parts of the state.
- Peach State Health Plan, the Centene Foundation and the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University expanded access through a program allowing medical students to complete an accelerated curriculum in three years and receive loan forgiveness if they practice in rural Georgia.