This notice announces the opportunity to apply for funding under the Rural Health Network Development Planning Program (“Network Planning Grants”). The purpose of the Network Planning Grants Program is to promote the development of integrated health care networks in order to: (i) achieve efficiencies; (ii) expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of basic health care services; and (iii) strengthen the rural health care system as a whole.
This program brings together key parts of a rural health care delivery system, particularly those entities that may not have collaborated in the past, to work together to establish or improve local capacity and coordination of care. The grant program supports one year of planning to develop and assist integrated health care networks in becoming operational.
For purposes of this program, an integrated health care network is defined as an organizational arrangement among at least three (3) regional or local health care organizations that come together to develop strategies for improving health services delivery systems in a community. An integrated health care network should be an independent organization with signed agreements, defined policies and, often by-laws based on a long-term vision for achieving systemic change. Decision-making is shared and distributed among members and the programmatic focus adapts to changing priorities.
Integrated health care networks can be an effective strategy to help smaller rural health care providers and health care service organizations align resources, achieve economies of scale and efficiencies, share decision-making authority, collaboratively address community challenges, and create impactful, innovative solutions as a group rather than as single providers.
For example, a critical access hospital, a rural health clinic, and a public health department may collaborate to form a network around a shared purpose. These networks can include a wide range of community partners including social service agencies, State Rural Health Associations, Primary Care Associations, academic medical centers, mental health agencies, charitable organizations, educational institutions, employers, local government agencies or other entities with an interest in a community’s health care system.
The Network Planning Grants Program offers rural health care organizations the opportunity to better address community needs and respond to challenges such as supporting providers in the transition from volume-based to value-based care through the formation of an integrated health care network. The intent is for health networks to expand access to care, increase the use of health information technology, explore alternative health care delivery models, and continue to achieve quality health care across the continuum of care.
Eligible applicants shall be domestic public or private, non-profit or for-profit entities, including faith-based, community-based, tribes and tribal organizations. The applicant organization may be located in a rural or urban area, but must have demonstrated experience serving, or the capacity to serve, rural underserved populations. Urban applicants should describe how they will ensure a high degree of local rural control in the project. Applicants should list the rural areas (counties) that will be served. Proposed counties should be fully rural, but if counties are partially rural counties, please include the rural census tract(s) in the Project Abstract. The applicant organization should also describe their experience and/or capacity serving rural populations in the Project Abstract section of the application. It is important that applicants list the rural counties (or rural census tract(s) if the county is partially rural) that will be served through their proposed project, as this will be one of the factors that will determine the applicant organization’s eligibility to apply for this grant funding.