Identification of High-Need Rural Counties to Assist in Resource Location Planning for Primary Care


Many of these rural counties lacking access to primary care safety net settings demonstrate clustering of multiple population health indicators that indicate low socioeconomic status, adverse health behaviors, limited access to healthcare, and poor environmental factors. In this supplemental brief, we performed a similar analysis to our previous work, but instead we used a different criterion for healthcare availability to subset rural counties to those with the greatest health needs. These modifications demonstrate the flexibility of our selection process in that it allows the user to change how the existing healthcare infrastructure is defined and the thresholds applied. The geographic distribution of population health indicators across rural counties indicate the presence of disparities in health and access to primary healthcare. Identifying which rural counties are high-need in the context of a limited primary care infrastructure is vital in order to allocate resources to improve their population health indicators. This simple selection process can lead to a more in depth needs assessment of the rural counties identified so that policy initiatives, programs, or interventions can be tailored to meet the healthcare needs of those counties.

Rural and Minority Health Research Center
Charity Breneman, Jan Eberth, Janice Probst