Podcast #3: It All Starts with Data

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This is the third podcast in our Stepping Up: Health Equity in Rural Hospitals Podcast Series. Data are a cornerstone for efforts to identify and address disparities and advance health equity. Guests provide insight into how a facility can adequately assess the needs of their rural community and translate that data into health equity programs and initiatives. By listening to this episode, the audience will be able to utilize tools and resources to conduct community needs assessments with health equity champions.

Podcast Guests


Sarah Brinkman

Sarah Brinkman, Program Manager, Stratis Health

As a certified professional in healthcare quality, I support health care providers in understanding their respective quality reporting programs, making sense of their quality data, identifying opportunities for improvement, and implementing interventions. Specifically, I do a lot of work focused on rural providers and improving health equity, including serving as the program manager for the national Rural Quality Improvement Technical Assistance team and an advisor for Stratis Health’s Culture Care Connection online learning and resource center. I was a 2020 National Rural Health Association Rural Health Fellow and currently serve on the NHRA Health Equity Council.

Shena Popat

Shena Popat, Senior Research Scientist, NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis

With NORC’s Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, I have experience working on rural and frontier health program evaluation and policy analysis projects for federal agencies, state, and foundations. All of our research integrates health equity for rural communities. While we analyze secondary data to describe quality and outcomes, primary data collection in which we can listen to and learn from rural providers and patients is most important in driving a path forward. Previously, I served as Improvement Director for a critical access hospital and rural health clinic, where I led ACO implementation efforts and engaged medical staff in implementing process improvement projects. Even the small changes can make a difference!


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