Office of Rural Health Programs
Since its inception, the VA Office of Rural Health (ORH) has funded well over 500 projects/programs across the VA health care system to accomplish its mission of increasing access and improving the quality of health care for enrolled rural and highly rural Veterans. In the 2010-2014 ORH strategic plan, six major goals were outlined:
- Improve access and quality of care through the establishment of new access points, by supporting new and ongoing transportation solutions to VA facilities and by supporting initiatives such as the home based primary care program
- Optimize the use of available and emerging technologies such as telemedicine, web-based networking tools, and the use of mobile devices to deliver care to and monitor the health of rural and highly rural veterans
- Maximize utilization of existing and emerging studies and analyses to impact care delivered to rural and highly rural Veterans
- Improve availability of education and training for VA and non VA health care providers to rural and highly rural Veterans by supporting initiatives such as the Graduate Medical Education Enhancement Initiative for residents , nurse practitioners and social workers who want specialized training in Rural Health.
- Enhance existing and implement new strategies to improve collaborations and increase service options for rural and highly rural Veterans such as the recent IHS-VA MOU that will improve health care delivery by sharing programs, improving coordination of care, and increasing efficiency through sharing contracts and purchasing agreements.
- Develop innovative methods to identify, recruit and retain medical professionals and requisite expertise in rural and highly rural areas.
In fiscal year 2013, ORH is supporting 287 individual projects across the country (this does not include ORH-funded projects overseen by Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers). Many of these are in collaboration with other VA program offices such as the VA Homeless Office, the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care and the Office of Telehealth services. See the pie chart below for a breakdown of projects by primary category. (Percentages refer to project numbers not funding).