June 28, 2021 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
As an outcome of the rural health workshop they hosted last summer, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have produced a workbook (free to anyone with a .edu email address), Population Health in Rural American 2020: Proceedings of a Workshop. The publication contains a polished account of the one-day workshop that convened the leading rural health experts in the nation.
Jan Eberth, associate professor of epidemiology and director of the Rural and Minority Health Research Center, and Janice Probst, health services policy and management Distinguished Professor Emerita and director emerita of the Center, were among the elite ranks invited to participate in the workshop. Other contributors included leaders from the National Rural Health Resource Center, Indian Health Council, Southwest Rural Health Research Center, Bipartisan Policy Center Action, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The workshop, and subsequent workbook, covered a range of rural health topics, such as demographics and social determinants of health, structural urbanism in rural America, tribal health perspectives, increased mortality rates in rural areas, health indicators, racial disparities in rural locations, rural healthcare landscape, community health needs assessment, innovations in sustaining rural population health, value-based care, engaging healthcare providers, and the congressional to COVID-19 for rural America.
Eberth weighed in on health inequity in a rural context, including the intersection of mortality, race, and ethnicity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effect of barriers to accessing care in rural communities. Probst contributed to the group’s discussion about the implications for rural health related to the acceleration of Telehealth in Response to COVID-19.
Through this workshop and the publications of its contents, Eberth and Probst hope to bring increased attention to issues of equity for rural populations and that may lead to change. They are particularly interested in improving the tracking of public health outcomes among rural populations and working toward the widespread recognition that certain funding structures systematically disadvantage rural populations (e.g., funding healthcare providers through per-person purchases, rather than allocating funds for necessary community infrastructure, such as roads).
An important part of this change will be the education of students (i.e., future professionals/researchers) on these issues, which is why the workbook is offered free to students, staff and faculty with .edu email addresses -- increasing access to the proceedings to all students, regardless of their institution’s resources.