Network Sustainability Study Results: Establishing a Validated Assessment and Identifying Characteristics of a Sustaining Network

Author: 
Rural Health Innovations (RHI),
National Cooperative of Health Networks (NCHN),
Evalytics, LLC

The Rural Health Network Sustainability Assessment Study was a two-year study which began in 2015 and was developed collaboratively by Rural Health Innovations (RHI), the National Cooperative of Health Networks (NCHN), and Evalytics, LLC. The primary purpose was to develop a valid and reliable instrument to assess sustainability of rural health networks. The secondary purpose was to identify conceptual network characteristics to better understand and support rural health network sustainability.

This study is comprised of data from over 100 rural health networks spanning more than 40 states across the country, varied membership types and governance structures. A study of rural health networks to this magnitude and with this focus on sustainability had not been completed before. Rural health networks have a key role to play as a means toward addressing population health. It is critical that we understand key characteristics of sustained networks and have a tool to identify opportunities for improvement.

The Year 1 Study was completed Summer 2016 and the Year 2 Study was completed Summer 2017. Both reports provide background information on the methodology and approach of the study plus the technical findings of the assessment validation process. With the conclusion of the second year of study, the validated assessment was finalized along with five conceptual factors, or characteristics, of a sustained network.

Continued analysis and discussion of the study will be released in the Network Sustainability Study Final Report later this year.