Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Issue Areas

Rural Health

Rural communities face unique challenges to accessing quality health care and implementing sustainable policies to improve health outcomes. Many public health strategies that flourish in urban settings are not immediately relevant or possible in rural environments. 

The Public Health Institute is committed to advancing rural health infrastructure and improving health outcomes by developing new technologies and implementing best practices in rural health policy and programming. Our rural health work focuses on improving access for low-income rural patients to health clinics, advancing adolescent sexual and reproductive health programs, developing strategies to reduce chronic and infectious diseases, tracking and mitigating the impacts of climate change in rural settings, and ensuring equitable health outcomes across rural communities in both the U.S. and across the globe, including low-income and elderly populations. Using our local knowledge and on-the-ground experience, PHI takes a community based approach to addressing rural health, and understands the need for nuanced health solutions across different communities.

Our expertise includes:

  • Tracking diseases and adverse health outcomes in rural settings: Make sure your work is informed by the latest research and program evaluation. We are available to assist in survey research, chronic and infectious disease tracking, and community-based participatory research and solutions—with a focus on rural communities. 
  • Developing rural health leaders: Work with PHI to build the capacity of grassroots leaders and advocates who will push for policies, programs, and funding that support critical public health solutions, including a focus on rural communities. 
  • Building collaboratives for health: Our experts can help you bring together rural leaders from multiple sectors—including law enforcement, education, and public health—to learn how to collectively solve their communities’ biggest health challenges.
  • Advancing rural health policies to reduce chronic disease: From improving food environments, physical activity opportunities, health care access, and violence prevention efforts, PHI experts can work with you to design and implement local or regional policies to improve rural health outcomes. 
  • Using new technology to tackle rural health challenges: PHI staff offer specialized expertise in telehealth strategies, including developing technological support and community networks to link rural health clinics and improve healthcare access for rural residents.


Resources and Tools

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Connie Chan Robison

Connie Chan Robison is executive director of the Center for Collaborative Planning, a training and technical assistance center at PHI. Robison prom...

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Bridge is establishing a culture of evidence-based medicine to treat substance use disorders through an accelerated training program for healthcare...

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Center for Connected Health Policy

The Center for Connected Health Policy develops and advances telehealth policy solutions that promote improvements in health and health care system...

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Cleaner Cookstoves: Building Global Capacity & Improving Public Health

Exposure to smoke from cooking fires and traditional stoves results in nearly 2 million premature deaths each year, predominantly among women and c...

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Dialogue4Health (D4H), a project of PHI, is a community that conceives, builds and shares strategies to improve the public's health. D4H p...

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Global Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention and Control

The rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is considered a global patient safety issue and a major public health concern. Compounding the threat of...

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Here's How We're Making a Difference

Expanding Telehealth Services in California

Recommendations by PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy became the blueprint for California’s Telehealth Advancement Act of 2011. The act removes barriers, allowing the use of digital technologies to deliver a variety of health services. This can speed treatment for patients, eliminate the need for patient travel, improve communication among providers and lead to better care at a lower cost.



Increasing Access to Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs

Working in small and rural California communities, CA4Health trained lay leaders to deliver evidence-based chronic disease self-management, education and support. Over three years, CA4Health increased the number of community members with access to these services by 263,272.

CA4Health also created this video to further expand the understanding and need for community health workers.



PHI's CA4Health Changes Beverage Policies at Central Valley Head Start Centers

Photo credit: Tim Wagner

CA4Health, PHI’s statewide Community Transformation Grant covering rural and small California counties, worked with Head Start Centers across four Central Valley counties to adopt strong new healthy beverage standards to help give these children a head start to a healthier life.

As a result, 1,500 children through age five now drink water and unflavored milk (and breast milk for those up to 12 months) instead of soda, sports drinks, juice and juice drinks, and flavored milk.