The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) today announced support for a national focus on promoting health care quality in rural America. "Quality Through Collaboration: the Future of Rural Health," released today by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, focuses attention on the steps needed to ensure quality health care for the 20 percent of Americans who live in rural communities.

The NRHA applauds the IOM focus on the unique health system of rural America. The goal of providing top quality care must be uniform across health care settings, but the practical steps for achieving that care may be different in rural and urban communities. For that reason, the effort by the IOM and their committee is a good first step towards improving health care for all Americans.

"Working to promote and sustain high quality care in rural communities has been a goal of the NRHA for many years," said NRHA Executive Director Steve Wilhide.

"We are pleased to be joined in this work by the Institute of Medicine."

The report outlines ways to customize approaches to quality improvement in rural communities. It addresses the health professional shortage in rural communities and makes specific recommendations for reforming education and training programs. Financial issues and the reimbursement needs of rural health care providers are discussed, and the potential of telecommunications for improving the safety and quality of rural health care are noted. The report also makes specific recommendations for adapting practice guidelines and developing quality measures and reporting mechanisms that effectively promote quality in the rural setting.

To read the entire report, visit http://www.nap.edu/books/0309094399/html/ For more information about the NRHA efforts to promote quality health care in rural communities, contact Alan Morgan at (703) 519-7910.

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