Rural PA.
Published on: Jul 2, 2019

Pennsylvania is the first state in the nation to design and implement an alternative payment model focused solely on rural hospitals, with an emphasis on both containing health care spending and transforming care to better meet community needs.

A multi-disciplinary team of Penn State faculty and staff members, led by Lisa Davis, outreach associate professor of health policy and administration and director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health and Outreach, and Dennis Scanlon, distinguished professor of health policy and administration and director of the Center for Health Care and Policy Research, will work with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to support and evaluate the implementation of the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model.

The Pennsylvania Rural Health Model was formally announced in January 2017 and officially launched in the state on Jan. 1, 2019. The effort will continue through 2024.

The model, developed with funding from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, addresses the financial challenges that rural hospitals face by transitioning them from fee-for-service to global budget payments.

Currently, five rural hospitals and five health plans are participating in the model’s first implementation year. The Pennsylvania Department of Health and its sub-contractors continue to recruit additional hospitals and plans. Pending the passage of state legislation, the Rural Health Redesign Center (RHRC) will be established as an independent entity to administer the model.

Through a contract with the commonwealth, the Penn State team will engage in a projects and analysis associated with the first phase of the model and the establishment of the RHRC.

Davis will lead the drafting of by-laws, human resources policies, and marketing and communications plans for the RHRC. She also will explore funding opportunities for the RHRC and participating hospitals to extend the reach and impact of the model.

Scanlon will lead an analysis to inform the health needs of rural populations and will chronicle the evolution and history of the model.

Joel Segel, assistant professor of health policy and administration, will provide assistance with data aggregation and analytic support using data from a variety of sources. Segel and his team will assist with aggregation of data related to financial performance, population health, access to care, and quality from model stakeholders, all of which represent important targets for the model.

A computational and spatial analysis team, led by Guangqing Chi, associate professor of rural sociology and demography and public health sciences, will work with a team to understand the geospatial needs of the model and will provide consulting expertise. A data warehouse planning team, led by Max Crowley, assistant professor of human development and family studies and director of Penn State’s Administrative Data Accelerator, will map options and opportunities for the development of a long-term data solution for the RHRC. The solution will be focused on best practices for receiving, storing, managing, securing and using data from stakeholders.