Originally published in MOREnetworking Vol. 2 No. 3, May 2005
The University of Missouri (MU) Center for Health Policy has formed a partnership with Washington University (WU) in St. Louis to create a health disparities center in order to confront statewide health care discrepancies in rural and urban areas.
According to a recent study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, access to health care is elusive for many Americans, especially within minority populations. The Missouri Foundation for Health has identified some of the key areas in the state where this disparity is prevalent. By forming a center focused on developing and overseeing research, outreach and training projects, the two institutions combine unique research perspectives. While MU has been serving the needs of rural Missourians for more than 150 years, WU has been dedicated to providing patient care and studying approaches to enhancing the health of urban populations.
“The purpose of our collaboration is to share ideas, resources and strategies for implementing high quality health care to racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations,” said Kristofer Hagglund, PhD, Co-director of the Center for Health Policy (CHP). “This contract will create a network of Missouri people and organizations who are working to reduce health care disparities. The combined rural and urban focus will allow comparisons of similarities and differences across regions and allow the two universities and their surrounding communities to learn from each other.”
One current method being used by MU physicians to bridge the gap between underserved patients and health care needs in regions such as the Bootheel is through the medical school’s Missouri Telehealth Network (MTN).
Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, the state of Missouri, MU Health Care and rural health care providers, the project provides high-quality specialty care in participating rural communities through the use of digital telecommunications technology.
“It’s exciting to be part of a great program that applies advancements in technology to cutting-edge medical treatments and being able to provide this service to those that may otherwise go untreated,” said Karen Edison, MD, MTN Medical Director and Co-director of CHP. “A good example of this is our telehealth expansion into the Bootheel which has a large minority population with poorer health outcomes.”
Primary data collection will take place over an 18-month period and will be centered on urban St Louis and on the rural Bootheel region of Missouri. The Missouri Foundation for Health, a philanthropic organization with a vision to improve the health of the people in the communities it serves, funded the project in full.
This article was reprinted with permission of UM Health Care.
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