Background: Senate Bill 707 Freestanding Medical Facilities- Certificate of Need, Rates and Definition (SB 707) established the Rural Health Care Workgroup to oversee a study of healthcare delivery in the Middle Shore region and develop recommendations to the legislature to meet the health care needs of the five counties – Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot. Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) contracted with the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis to conduct a study to develop rural health care delivery and payment options for the five counties. Five focus groups were conducted as part of this study, the results of which were published in November of 2017.
Goal: To gain insight into the health care perceptions and behaviors of consumers and to understand their views, opinions and preferences for a regional health care system. Additionally, to gather direct feedback on the needs, wants, availability and accessibility of health care for Mid-Shore consumers.
Objectives: To gain insight into the health care perceptions and behaviors of consumers and to understand their views, opinions and preferences for a regional health care system. Additionally, to gather direct feedback on the needs, wants, availability and accessibility of health care for Mid-Shore consumers.
Approach: Between March and April of 2017, five focus groups (45 participants total), one in each county, were conducted, audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed. Participants addressed assets and challenges related to health care in the region, identified defining characteristics of improved health services, and provided recommendations for the MHCC.
Results: Analysis revealed the following areas of need: • An environment that supports care coordination and case management and includes health care professionals who know their patients and focus on their needs. • Improvements to the health care environment, including reforms in drug pricing, health insurance, reimbursement for care coordination, mental and behavioral health services and non-pharmaceutical interventions. • Increased involvement of patients and families • Enhanced health literacy around specific health conditions, health insurance, and the health care system • Special attention to the needs of vulnerable populations including older people, young people, caregivers, those at the end of life, people with disabilities, low-income individuals, and others.
Importance to public health: By listening to residents’ voices, policymakers, program planners and others can better understand and address the healthcare needs and priorities facing the five Mid-Shore counties.