This notice announces the opportunity to apply for funding under the Rapid Response Rural Data Analysis and Issue Specific Rural Research Studies Program. The purpose of this program is to assist rural communities with conducting rapid data analyses and short term issue-specific rural research studies to understand the impact of current and proposed policies and regulations as well as provide information that will improve health care in rural America.
Due to the nature of rural policy analysis and formulation, rural organizations and health care providers often require timely information that is available only through specialized analysis of databases of information compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), other federal and state agencies, or private organizations. The recipient is responsible for collaborating with agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to compile and analyze data that is requested in a timely manner. The recipient will also collaborate with rural stakeholders to determine what data sets are needed. These collaborative efforts are vital because most rural groups and individuals do not have the capacity to store the data sets, the staff expertise to refine and analyze the data, nor the technology necessary to run statistical analyses.
The recipient is required to staff a rapid response data analysis team capable of responding within one to two business days to an estimated one to two data analysis requests per month from rural health stakeholders. In addition to data analysis requests, the recipient must also respond to an estimated five to seven technical assistance requests per month to help rural stakeholders find and use existing research and analysis products produced under this cooperative agreement. The recipient is also expected to design and complete two short term (three to six month) issue-specific rural health services research studies per year. Findings from these analyses will be used to help inform rural health care providers and stakeholders including states, relevant professional associations, organizations focused on improving access to quality health care services in rural communities such as State Offices of Rural Health (SORHs) and State Rural Health Associations (SRHAs), and the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services.
Rapid Response Data Analysis
In order to acquire the information from the data sets needed to identify trends, problems, and progress in rural health care financing and access to care in rural areas, rural stakeholders must rely on organizations that have the data storage capacity, personnel, and technology resources to provide the information to meet immediate policy needs, often in one to two days. Examples of past data analyses that increased understanding of the impact of health policies on rural communities and stakeholders are:
• Calculating annual costs and revenues reported by Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), and other rural hospitals;
• Analyzing the number of CAH patient days that are swing bed admissions vs. acute care admissions;
• Mapping travel routes and distances between rural hospitals nationwide; and
• Compiling detailed data on rural hospital closures, openings, and mergers from 2005 to 2020.
Each of these analyses required access to and familiarity with data sets that would have been prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of rural health care providers and organizations to analyze in a timely manner.
Issue Specific Research Studies
At the same time, the ever-changing nature of the rural policy environment sometimes necessitates short-term research and analysis of emerging policy issues. This work is more elaborate than rapid response needs, requiring data construction and analyses that involve more resources than the one to two day rapid response work described above. This work is expected to be completed in three to six months. Examples of past short term issue-specific rural research studies include:
• 2019 Wage Index Differences and Selected Characteristics of Rural and Urban Hospitals; and
• Characteristics of Communities Served by Rural Hospitals Predicted to be at High Risk of Financial Distress in 2019
These and other examples of issue-specific rural research studies funded under the Rapid Response Rural Data Analysis and Issue Specific Rural Research Studies Program are available on the Rural Health Research Gateway (www.ruralhealthresearch.org).
All domestic public and private entities, non-profit and for-profit, are eligible to apply. Eligible entities may include, but are not limited to, public and private institutions of higher education, public and private health research organizations, foundations, tribes and tribal organizations, and faith-based entities.