This notice announces the opportunity to apply for funding under the Rural Health Network Development (RHND) Program. The purpose of the RHND Program is to support integrated health care networks who collaborate to achieve efficiencies; expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of basic health care services and associated health outcomes; and strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. HRSA intends for the RHND Program to address gaps in service, enhance systems of care, and expand capacity of the local rural health care system.
The RHND program was created in response to the need for rural providers to address changes taking place in the health care sector in order to better serve their rural communities. Furthermore, integrated health care networks are an important component of health care service delivery and system reform. Many rural providers have historically worked together to address these challenges by creating networks that foster collaboration and coordination, and address structural challenges inherent in rural health care delivery, resulting in reduced burden and costs on the rural health care system.
The RHND Program will focus on the following four program domains:
I.) Improve access: by addressing gaps in care, workforce shortages, better workflows and/or improving the quality of health care services
II.) Expand capacity and services: by creating effective systems through the development of knowledge, skills, structures, and leadership models
III.) Enhance outcomes: by improving patient and/or network development outcomes through expanding or strengthening the network’s services, activities or interventions
IV.) Sustainability: by positioning the network to prepare for sustainable health programs through value-based care and population health management.
The RHND Program encourages innovative strategies to address health care needs identified by local communities and supports rural communities in preparing for changes within the evolving health care landscape. The program creates an opportunity for rural health networks to work collaboratively to adapt to the emerging trends in rural healthcare, and meet the unique needs of the rural communities they serve. While the RHND Program provides the opportunity for community specific programs, applicants should consider addressing the key priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) within their programs: readiness for the next public health emergency, health equity, mental health, and value-based care.1
The program encourages applicants to include populations that have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes, health disparities, and other inequities, as compared to the rest of the rural population. Examples of these populations include, but are not limited to, racial and ethnic minorities, homeless populations, pregnant women, disabled individuals, youth and adolescents, etc.
HRSA recommends your network members consist of a broad array of organizations from both traditional and non-traditional health care entities. Diverse network members may include cross-sector entities such as behavioral health organizations, critical access hospitals, rural health clinics, community-based and social service organizations, colleges and universities and tribal organizations. Using the strength of diverse membership, the network should consider its service delivery approach to addressing pertinent rural health issues, such as hospital bypass rates and value-based care, in order to meet the program domains and effect long-term change.
Systems of Care Approach
One way applicants can improve access and enhance outcomes is through creating a systems of care approach. For the purposes of this program, systems of care is defined as a service delivery approach that uses community partnerships to create a coordinated array of broad and flexible services. The network, led by a core set of principles and values, will work together with the community to create or improve upon equitable systems, workflows and strategies to improve health outcomes (more information can be found in the background section.
Eligible applicants include 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. The applicant organization should describe in detail their experience and/or capacity to serve rural populations in the Project Abstract section of the application.
The applicant organization may not previously have received an RHND award (other than a grant for planning activities) for the same or a similar project. However, existing recipients that (1) seek to expand services or expand their service areas, (2) include new or additional network member organizations, or (3) target a new population or new focus area are eligible to apply.