Office of Rural Health strategic plan outlines efforts to support rural PA

Lisa Davis
January 30, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) has released its 2020-23 Strategic Plan, providing a strong direction to continue its current programs and expand new initiatives that serve its mission to enhance the health status of rural Pennsylvanians and ensure that rural residents have access to high quality, affordable health care.

Challenges in rural health persist over time, such as limited access, provider recruitment, and aging populations. PORH, Located administratively in the Penn State Department of Health Policy and Administration, is committed to addressing the evolving needs of rural health care delivery systems and residents and has laid out six key goals and strategies designed to help rural Pennsylvania, as health care across the state and nation transforms.

“This three-year plan builds on our three decades of rural health advancement and is a framework for the future,” noted Lisa Davis, PORH director and outreach associate professor of health policy and administration. “Health care across the state and nation is transforming and we need to focus our lens on current issues and future trends to ensure access to quality health in Pennsylvania, regardless of geographic location.”

A primary goal for PORH is to strengthen the rural health care delivery system by encouraging greater participation by rural hospital and community programs to address quality issues, focusing specifically on primary care, oral health, and the promotion of volume-to-value transformations. The office will continue to support programs that increase access to health care services, particularly for health professional shortage areas and workforce development programs through a greater understanding of various models of care, consolidation of providers, and expansion of regional health systems.

To address changing rural demographics, evidence-based system change, population health data and community health improvement efforts by systems, rural communities and the state, PORH will continue its focus on community and population health and addressing areas of unmet need. The office will continue to promote interprofessional development models to integrate primary, oral and behavioral health care. A continued emphasis will focus on rural human-trafficking awareness and education through state and regional planning efforts and dissemination of resources.

The plan outlines strategies for advocating for rural health care delivery systems and rural residents at the local, state, and national levels; federal and state payment and delivery system reform; impacts of regional health care consolidation; and ensuring that the rural voice is considered in the creation of policies, legislation, regulations, and programming.

The plan outlines strategies for advocacy for rural health care delivery systems and rural residents at the local, state and national levels; federal and state payment and delivery system reform affects rural health; impacts of regional health care consolidation; and ensuring that the rural voice is considered in the creation of policies, legislation, regulations and programming.

PORH will expand current programs focused on continuing education for agricultural producers and rural health care providers and will increase the focus on migrant and immigrant farm workers and Anabaptist populations. The office continues to offer certification programs for swimming-pool pesticide applicators and hosts programs on topics ranging from grant writing to rural legislative briefings.

To support these goals, PORH will increase its infrastructure and operations to support activities through existing and new state and national partnerships and support. 

PORH is one of 50 state offices of rural health in the nation funded as a federal/state partnership by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy in the Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Located administratively in the Penn State Department of Health Policy and Administration, PORH is dedicated to enhancing the health of rural Pennsylvanians by working with providers, educators, policymakers, advocates, and administrators to improve the delivery and quality of healthcare in rural areas of the state. More information about PORH’s programs, initiatives, and strategic plan can be found on their website at porh.psu.edu or by contacting their office at 814-863-8214.

  • Street in rural town
    IMAGE: USDA Economic Research Service

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 30, 2020