Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Strengthening Rural Healthcare

The Blue Shield of California Foundation issued a Request for Applications (RFA) to help strengthen the rural healthcare safety net in California’s 32 smallest counties with populations under 250,000. The goal is for providers to work together on a care delivery integration project and to provide better care for safety net patients and to better control existing healthcare spending.

Health information technology can bridge the gaps but safety net providers can have incompatible systems or lack necessary interconnections to share patient information. 
California’s healthcare safety net is not an organized system of care.

Today, local and regional healthcare providers work in silos with limited ability to share patient information or coordinate the full range of primary care, specialty care, inpatient care, behavioral health, and social services that are needed in the rural areas.

In the “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps” report published by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, the seven least healthy counties in California and 14 of the 18 least healthy counties were small rural counties.

Examples of projects that are eligible include but are not limited to:

  • Projects that support countywide collaborative that include diverse stakeholders including community health centers, hospitals, private providers, and county health and human services departments

  • Projects to develop and implement health information exchange capabilities to enable health centers, hospitals, and other community and county-based providers to more closely coordinate care

  • Efforts to strengthen the integration of behavioral health and primary care within the local safety net, and focus on planning for or implementing systems redesign

  • Opportunities to expand access to and better coordinate care for hard-to-serve populations, including the undocumented, uninsured population, and homeless individuals

The Foundation will consider proposals for up to $125,000 with an estimated five to ten grants to be awarded through the RFA. Applications are due June 22, 2012. For more information email Richard Thomason, Program Officer at

The Request for applications for Rural Safety Net Integration can be viewed at