Like the webinar, there is no cost to attend the Clinical Congress, but registration is required. Participants can earn 1 CME credit for each session they attend.
Rural Health Background
In the absence of a standardized definition of what constitutes “rural” and “urban” communities, the number of people living in rural areas in the United States ranges from 46 million to 63 million. Regardless of the number, obtaining health care can be a challenge for residents of these areas, who often have less access to critical resources than urban residents.
Rural Americans also experience higher rates of poverty, are less likely to have health insurance, and are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking cigarettes and reduced physical activity, all of which can lead to poor health outcomes.
As a champion of the specialty that cares for patients of all ages, the Academy is committed to improving rural health across the country. To that end, the AAFP has taken several actions to support family physicians working in rural and underserved areas and to ensure that rural Americans have access to high-quality care.
AAFP Rural Health Advocacy
Earlier this year, in response to a proposed rule on rural emergency hospitals, the AAFP and the American College of Emergency Physicians wrote a letter to CMS asking the agency to change the rule, saying it “is essential to ensure quality emergency care.” Care is provided by a physician with training and/or experience in emergency medicine or care provided by non-physician professionals. The organizations explained to CMS that patients living in rural areas “should not suffer a lower quality of care simply because of their location.”
The Academy also sent another letter “recognizing the critical role family physicians play in ensuring access to emergency care in rural areas today and ensuring that the final rule allows family physicians to continue to practice in REHs, including serving in REH leadership roles.” The AAFP further encouraged the agency to allow physicians to meet direct supervision requirements through real-time telehealth technology, and “family physicians report that this flexibility has improved access to care in rural areas during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
In June, the Academy joined with other members of the Council on Academic Family Medicine (ie, the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Medicine Residencies, the North American Primary Care Research Group, and the Association of Teachers of Family Medicine) to offer comments to CMS in support of rural education pathway programs.
The AAFP has also advocated or is developing strategies
- promoting payment for rural family medicine practices and ensuring that rural health clinics fit into value-based payment models,
- increase funding for rural educational pathways and training opportunities in areas of shortage of health professionals,
- Developing resources for FPs, including those working in rural settings, who want to use digital health in their practice, and
- expanding broadband access to rural communities and practices.
Other resources, including AAFP policy and position papers, address issues such as access to rural health care, rural health care in medical education, and physician retention in rural practice.
The Academy also maintains a Rural Health Members Interest Group where members can connect with colleagues, discuss issues and share ideas.