The Community Health Association of Mountain/Plains States (CHAMPS) and Northwest Regional Primary Care Association (NWRPCA) held their 2022 Fall Primary Care Conference on October 15-18, 2022. This year's Fall Conference theme was "The Power of Together" celebrating the 25th anniversary of partnership between CHAMPS and NWRPCA.
Laura Potter, MSW, LCSW (TTA Facilitator), Andrea Rochat, MFA (Communication Staff Lead) and Suyen Schneegans, MA (TTA Staff Lead) presented on "Creating Connection in Virtual Spaces: Telementoring for Rural Health". To view the recording access here.
Rural and remote communities are resilient to shocks that threaten wellbeing. Changing health demography, funding models, and climate change are compounding pressures threatening rural residents' health and health care. Rural health care infrastructure is under increasing pressure due to changes in population demographics and funding models. Rural populations are older, sicker, and more impoverished than their urban counterparts. Rural communities experience a high demand for chronic health conditions; but with limited access to high-quality care due to barriers including limited resources, workforce shortages, frequent staff turnover, and/or geographic and transportation challenges.
Telementoring is a novel tool for supporting rural health systems and workers to operate effectively in the face of a rapidly changing health care landscape. Telementoring uses technology for delivering professional training and education with a mentoring component linking rural health workers to specialty and advanced care experts. As a model of guided learning, telementoring can transform health delivery in rural settings through a variety of applications: 1) transfer of clinical knowledge and task-shifting; 2) training and workforce development; 3) rapid implementation and operational support; 4) professional development to engage an often-isolated workforce.
This presentation will use a slideshow and videos to describe the national Rural Telementoring Training Center (RTTC), funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This will include contrasting descriptions of 6 six telementoring models for addressing care gaps in rural and medically underserved areas. Case studies will be used to evaluate two approaches: (1) sharing public health information with migrant farmers and rural Montanans, and (2) fostering a peer-to-peer network of community health workers in south Texas.
Beginning in the summer of 2021, the RTTC Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Team began a learning partnership with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services who were faced with challenges in delivering public health information to rural Montanans. In response to their need, we assisted them with designing and launching their podcast, "Talking Health in the 406".
Adapted community health clubs (CHC), a virtual space where rural health care workers, including community health workers, can engage in structured, longitudinal peer-to-peer mentoring, training and social support, was piloted with 16 community health workers in South Texas from June-September 2021. The club members learned how to form their CHCs within their community through a 10-session virtual training.
Rural and remote communities face systemic barriers to accessing high-quality health care. For many working and living in these settings, figuring out how, when, and where to access information can be challenging. Emergent technologies offer the opportunity to leverage scarce resources and connect the rural health workforce with the training, tools, and support needed to deliver care. Through a disease-agnostic approach that offers tailored support implementing and evaluating telementoring programs such as podcasts and adapted community health clubs', the RTTC can improve care access in underserved and remote communities.