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UND’s RHIhub, the nation’s rural health information source, receives $14.5 million in federal funding

UND’s Rural Health Information Hub staff members Kristine Sande, Matt Bruflodt, Kay Miller Temple, and Makenzie Atherton in the exhibit hall of the National Rural Health Association Annual Conference. Image courtesy of UND Center for Rural Health.

UND’s Rural Health Information Hub, a national rural health information center, has received $14.5 million to continue its work as the nation’s rural health information source.

Located at the Center for Rural Health within the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the funds from the Health Resource and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy will allow the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) to continue its work as a national clearinghouse on rural health issues over the next five years.

RHIhub will continue to serve rural communities and other rural stakeholders, helping them access the full range of available programs, funding, and research that can enable them to provide quality healthcare and improve the population health of rural residents.

 The nation’s rural health information center

“We have been the nation’s information center on rural health since 2002 and are excited to continue that work,” said Kristine Sande, associate director of the Center for Rural Health (CRH) and program director of RHIhub. “We have a lot of rural health expertise in North Dakota and are delighted that we can share that expertise with the entire nation.”

There are three main ways rural communities can benefit from the resources and services of RHIhub. The extensive website offers information, research, articles, model programs, innovations, funding sources, reports, data visualizations, and tool kits, and is updated daily. A weekly email newsletter and social media accounts highlight new resources and opportunities. People can also contact RHIhub for assistance with finding information, funding opportunities, and experts. In the past year, RHIhub website has been visited over 2 million times and staff has provided customized assistance to nearly 800 rural stakeholders.

Kristine Sande

“RHIhub serves as a support for local healthcare across the nation,” Sande continued, “We know that people working in rural hospitals and clinics are trying to improve the health of the community in various ways and they are wearing a lot of different hats. Often, they do not have the resources of an urban facility, such as a librarian or grant writer. They must fulfill different roles and we can help them find information and available opportunities, to make it easier for them to do their jobs and improve their services and ultimately improve the health of the community.”

RHIhub works to provide information and support on important and emerging rural issues, adding information in recent years on the opioid crisis in rural communities and farmers’ mental health. Since the emergence of COVID-19, RHIhub has been active in helping people at the local level find information related to the pandemic, helping people to share their innovations, best practices, and funding prospects. This is work they have been doing with communities across the country for years and have now been using the model with COVID-19 related resources, as well.

“RHIhub has been the go-to resource on rural health and human services issues for 18 years and a key partner for us,” said Tom Morris, associate administrator for Rural Health Policy at HRSA. “They play an essential role by providing not only a wealth of online resources but also webinars, information guides and one-on-one technical assistance to support rural communities.”

Other collaborators on RHIhub initiative include the Rural Policy Research Institute and the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis.

About the Rural Health Information Hub

The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) is the nation’s rural health information source. Committed to supporting healthcare and population health in rural communities, RHIhub website offers an online library, coverage of rural issues, state guides, toolkits, program models, funding, and more. RHIhub also provides free customized assistance by phone or email. RHIhub is funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, part of the Health Resources and Services Administration. For more information, visit ruralhealthinfo.org

About the Center for Rural Health

Established in 1980 at the University of North Dakota, the Center for Rural Health is one of the nation’s most experienced rural health organizations. It has developed a full complement of programs to assist researchers, educators, policymakers, healthcare providers, and most important, rural residents to address changing rural environments by identifying and researching rural health issues, analyzing health policy, strengthening local capabilities, developing community-based alternatives, and advocating for rural concerns.