Rural Health Quality Improvement Initiatives

The Health Department's Office of Rural Health and Primary Care manages several federal grants that focus on improving the quality of care that Vermonters receive in hospital and health care settings. Programs have been developed to help facilities collect, aggregate and report on health care data measures, and design rapid-cycle improvement projects aimed at improving data that has been reported. Stakeholders for these programs include rurally-located hospitals, the Vermont Program for Quality in Healthcare (VPQHC), and the New England Performance Improvement Initiative.

Medicare beneficiary quality improvment project (MBQIP)

An ongoing quality improvement focus for the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care is the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project. This is a federally-driven initiative that works to ensure critical access hospitals are prepared to meet future rural-relevant quality requirements.

Critical access hospitals are small rural hospitals that have 25 beds or less in their facility, and provide care to Vermonters who live in rural areas of the state. The aim is to increase reporting and demonstrate value while providing cost-efficient quality care.

This project provides an opportunity for individual hospitals to look at their own data, measure their outcomes against other critical access hospitals, and partner with other hospitals in the state on quality improvement initiatives to improve outcomes by adopting evidence-based tools and strategies.

Federal funds are available for critical access hospitals and small rural hospitals to conduct internal hospital projects to improve upon quality outcomes.

Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex Program)

The mission of the Flex Program is to help communities sustain the viability of small rural hospitals and health care services. The Vermont Flex Program supports data benchmarking, assessment tools, technical assistance, and provides funding opportunities to critical access hospitals that seek to improve upon their health system.

To be eligible for funding, a facility must be a critical access hospital that is participating in the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program.

Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP)

The mission of the SHIP Grant Program is to provide funding to small rural hospitals to assist with activities related to any or all of the following:

  • Value-Based Purchasing (VBP)
  • Accountable Care Organizations or Shared Savings (ACOs)
  • Payment Bundling/Prospective Payment Systems (PB/PPS)

To be eligible for funding, a facility must be a small, rural hospital (defined as one with 49 beds or less, as reported on the hospital's most recently filed Medicare Cost Report).