October 13, 2023
Rural communities face many health challenges, often related to structural barriers such as limited access to health care. Targeted services and programs can improve rural health and well-being but require strong partnerships and committed funding. Additionally, good data is necessary to identify problems and track how well new programs are working. This guidebook provides ideas and examples for rural stakeholders and communities who want to improve rural health and well-being by building partnerships, implementing innovative service models, and leveraging data.This guidebook may be useful to three groups:Rural community and economic development specialists who work on improving local economies and social well-being. They may finance or build housing or support systems delivering water, sewer, or broadband internet services to communities. They may also finance and assist local businesses and community spaces like schools and libraries and may want to learn how to focus more on health.Rural health services professionals who help prevent health problems and address urgent health needs. These medical experts may be looking for different partners and models to work closely with other community stakeholder groups and actors to address health needs.Funders focused on improving rural health who may be interested in learning about promising health models and partnerships that they could potentially invest in to help meet their funding goals.The guidebook covers the following topics:making a general case about rural health needs to policymakers and funders, including the challenges and opportunities in meeting these needsidentifying potential local partners for improving rural health and well-beingconsidering service models for rural programs or communitiesmeasuring progress to understand if programs are achieving desired goalsfinding and using the best data to identify problems and track outcomesThis guidebook also includes recommended resources for more in-depth information on these topics.