As the nation’s leading technical assistance and knowledge center in rural health, The Center serves as a catalyst for improved health care delivery in rural communities. Since 1985, The Center has worked closely with thousands of clinics, hospitals, health care professionals, rural health networks, organizations and associations in all 50 states. The Center enjoys solid and long-term relationships with many federal and national agencies as well as many organizations and associations. Developing partners and alliances, such as those listed below, aids in the creation of synergy and improves effectiveness of The Center as it seeks to fulfill its mission and vision.

College of St. Scholastica (CSS) is a Catholic Benedictine institution and the only independent private college in northeastern Minnesota. Launching the first Bachelor of Health Information Management (HIM) degree in the country in 1935, CSS has expertise in HIM as well as academic electronic health records, rural nursing and rural health care management. CSS is a member of the Key Health Alliance (KHA), comprising the Regional Extension Center for Health Information Technology (REACH) for Minnesota and North Dakota. Aside from work in the KHA and REACH, The Center has a long-standing partnership with CSS, including many projects.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) coordinates activities related to rural health care within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with responsibility for analyzing the possible effects of policy on residents of rural communities. Created by Section 711 of the Social Security Act, and housed within the Health Resources and Services Administration, FORHP advises the Secretary on health issues within these communities, including the effects of Medicare and Medicaid on rural citizens’ access to care, the viability of rural hospitals and the availability of physicians and other health professionals. FORHP administers grant programs designed to build health care capacity at both the local and state levels. The Center works with FORHP on many programs to share its expertise and function as a knowledge center. Such programs include the Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) for the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program, the Rural Hospital Performance Improvement (RHPI) Project, the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP), the Rural Health Information Technology Network Development (RHITND) Program  and the Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement Grant.

The Flex Monitoring Team (FMT) is a consortium of the Rural Health Research Centers located at the Universities of Minnesota, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Southern Maine. With a 5-year (2013-2018) cooperative agreement award from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP)(PHS Grant No. U27RH01080), the FMT monitors and evaluates the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex) Program. The FMT develops relevant quality, financial, and community benefit performance measures and reporting systems to help state and federal policy makers and rural health care providers understand the impact of the Flex Program.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is a leading innovator in health and health care improvement worldwide, believing that everyone should get the best care and health possible. IHI is responsible for the development of the Triple Aim, a concept fundamental to the changes occurring in the health care marketplace. The Center partners with IHI to discuss education and resource sharing to ensure rural health is at the forefront of innovation in health care.

Key Health Alliance (KHA) was a partnership of Stratis Health, National Rural Health Resource Center and The College of St. Scholastica and was developed with an emphasis on meeting the needs of rural and underserved populations. This partnership formalizes The Center’s commitment to a long-term, ongoing working relationship. A prominent partnership activity of KHA was REACH, the Regional Extension Center for Health Information Technology for Minnesota and North Dakota.

Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care promotes quality of life in Minnesota communities through advance care planning, palliative care and hospice. The Center is providing outreach to rural Minnesota health care providers on palliative care standards.

Montana Area Health Education Center (MT AHEC) and Office of Rural Health, Montana State University supports efforts to improve health care across Montana. The Center has partnered with the MT AHEC and Office of Rural Health since 2010 in provision of administering Community Health Assessments to all Montana critical access hospitals. Additionally, The Center supports the coordination and updates of a continuing education calendar used by health professionals.

National Cooperative of Health Networks (NCHN) Association is a national association of health networks and strategic partners seeking to support and strengthen health networks through collaboration, networking, leadership development and education. Involved since the initial inception of NCHN, The Center has partnered to share knowledge, resources and create awareness on the numerous benefits of networks and networking. The Center and NCHN also worked jointly in 2009 to create a national inventory of existing rural health networks.

National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) enhances the capacity of State Offices of Rural Health by supporting the development of state and community rural health leaders; creating and facilitating state, regional and national partnerships that foster information sharing and spur rural health related programs/activities; and enhancing access to quality health care services in rural communities. The Center partners with NOSORH to exchange knowledge and resources to improve programs and services targeted to similar audiences, particularly in alignment with TASC, SHIP and RHPI. NOSORH is also an ex-officio member of the TASC Advisory Committee.

National Rural Health Association (NRHA) is a national nonprofit membership organization with more than 20,000 members providing leadership on rural issues through advocacy, communications, education and research. The Center partners with NRHA to exchange knowledge and resources to improve programs and services targeted to similar audiences. NRHA has been a long-standing supporter and participant in the National Rural Health Information Technology Coalition and is an ex-officio member of the TASC Advisory Committee.

National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) is comprised of various organizations that help physicians and health professionals with recruitment and retention to rural and underserved communities throughout the country. The Center is the designated 3RNet state member in Minnesota and utilizes the 3RNet as the platform to host and manage the Minnesota Web Recruitment job opportunity postings. The Center created the Midwest Retention Toolkit with the 3RNet to assist rural and underserved communities in retaining health professionals.

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), located within the Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the principal federal entity charged with coordination of nationwide efforts to implement and use the most advanced health information technology and the electronic exchange of health information. The ONC is the funding agency for the nation’s HIT regional extension centers, of which The Center is an integral part in REACH for Minnesota and North Dakota. The Center maintains an established knowledge center relationship with the ONC for its staff to access information relevant to the adoption and implementation of HIT in rural communities nationwide.

Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC), Minnesota Department of Health promotes access to quality health care for all Minnesotans. The Center’s relationship with the ORHPC dates back to 1991. As such, The Center has partnered with the ORHPC on development of a large, successful annual state rural health conference, primary care recruitment and workforce analyses, community health planning and serving on the Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Advisory Committee.

Rural Health Information Hub (RHIHub) is a rural health and human services "information portal." RHIHub helps rural communities and other rural stakeholders access the full range of available programs, funding, and research that can enable them to provide quality health and human services to rural residents. The Center utilizes RHIHub’s online library, publications and guides.

Rural Health Value is a cooperative agreement between FORHP, the RUPRI Center for Health Policy Analysis and Stratis Health, that analyzes rural implications of changes in the organization, finance and delivery of health care services in rural communities. The Center acts in a knowledge center and information exchange capacity with Rural Health Value to create and enhance rural health awareness, as well as translate application of health reform initiatives to rural America.

Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC) is one of the country's earliest and most successful models for networking among rural hospitals. Owned by 40 nonprofit, rural, acute, general medical-surgical hospitals, RWHC advocates for rural health at the state and federal levels and shares service development for member hospitals as well as external customers. RWHC has partnered with The Center to offer health leadership training.

Stratis Health is a nonprofit organization that leads collaboration and innovation in health care quality and safety and serves as a trusted expert in facilitating improvement for people and communities. Stratis serves as the Minnesota Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) and is a member of the Key Health Alliance comprising REACH. Aside from work in the Key Health Alliance and REACH, The Center has a long-standing partnership with Stratis Health, including many projects. Terry Hill was also a past Board member.

Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 23, Veterans Administration serves more than 400,000 enrolled Veterans residing in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and portions of Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Health care services are delivered through an integrated system of hospitals, community-based outpatient or outreach clinics, community living centers and residential rehabilitation treatment programs. Under a contract with VISN 23 in 2012, The Center developed a plan to enhance communication, coordination and streamline community hospice services for Veterans living in rural communities. Through partnership with VISN 23 and five community hospice organizations, The Center released the Palliative Care Rural Initiative Dissemination Model and Implementation Guide, which is intended to serve as a framework for replicating care coordination models.

Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, National Opinion Research Center (NORC) conducts both qualitative and quantitative research focusing primarily on the impact of Medicare policies on rural communities. Their work, funded by FORHP, also addresses other rural health topics such as quality, access, home health, and workforce and health information technology.

Western Healthcare Alliance (WHA) is a formal network of rural hospitals in Colorado that combines resources to improve regional health care. WHA provides members with a forum for identifying, discussing and collectively addressing rural health care issues. The Center, through Rural Health Innovations, LLC (RHI), shares expertise with WHA in how to consult rural health networks.


For more information, please contact Sally Buck at (218) 727-9390 ext. 225 or