The Delivery portfolio of our Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative applications of telehealth and other technology-driven solutions to address the unique challenges that rural populations face in accessing specialty health services. Additionally, the program supports initiatives to improve the limited options for cancer and cardiac care in the upper Midwest.
Because of rural healthcare workforce shortages, much of Helmsley’s Delivery via Technology projects utilize telehealth. In frontier and rural areas, travel is necessary, sometimes for long distances to reach care. During winter months, travel often is not possible in areas due to hilly terrain and dangerous winds on the unprotected prairie. Partnerships with specialists working from a hub provide pharmacy, emergency room, and intensive care specialty access to rural hospitals and patients. Helmsley funds a hub-and-spoke telehealth model by partnering with Avera Health to serve hospitals, medical providers, and patients across seven states in the upper Midwest.
Although cancer is the second leading cause of death in America, survival rates are increasing thanks to improvements in screening and treatment. The Rural Healthcare Program works to increase survivability from cancer by funding the latest cancer screening and treatment technologies in rural cancer centers. To date, the program has made both digital mammography and radiation therapy available within a 60-100 mile radius across the upper Midwest. In addition, Helmsley is working to bring personalized breast cancer therapies, which are specific to each patient, to the region; giving women an opportunity to receive customized treatment in their home community and an improved chance of survival.
Each year in the United States, more than one million people suffer cardiac emergencies, often resulting in death. New diagnostic techniques, drugs, and interventions are continually being introduced into cardiology and vascular medicine to reduce mortality and bring high quality care to patients. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program works to reduce mortality from cardiac emergencies by funding the latest in advanced cardiac technology, enabling rural responders and providers to detect and treat cardiac emergencies sooner and more effectively. Helmsley has specifically funded 12-lead ECGs through the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline project, LUCAS2™ Automated Chest Compression devices through State Departments of Health, and CorPath Vascular Robotic Angioplasty Systems through regional health system partners.
Accessing behavioral health services is a challenge in rural America. While the prevalence of behavioral health issues may be similar in rural and urban settings, there is a significant shortage of providers in rural areas. To date, the Rural Healthcare Program has collaborated to pilot Project IMPACT, a collaborative depression care model, at community health centers.
Access to quality healthcare close to home means patients and family members do not have to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, for care. The Rural Healthcare Program recognizes that up-to-date diagnostic equipment is essential for providing quality care, but it is also expensive and can be difficult for small, rural hospitals to afford. To address this gap, the Rural Healthcare Program held its first competitive funding initiative for CT scanners.