The 10 year program was a national model in the area of quality improvement and paved the way for new ventures at the Colorado Rural Health Center.

AURORA, CO, January 20, 2021 /Neptune100/ — The Colorado Rural Health Center (CRHC) recently completed its flagship quality improvement initiative, the Improving Communications and Readmissions (iCARE) program. iCARE served as a national model for numerous quality of care metrics for over 10 years.

“When rural communities have the power to come up with solutions that work for their unique environment, innovation takes place and that innovation results in positive change. CRHC is proud of the work that our rural communities and staff have accomplished over the past 10 years,” said CRHC’s CEO, Michelle Mills.

CRHC implemented the Improving Communications and Readmissions (iCARE) program in 2010. The initiative worked with Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and rural health clinics (RHCs) across Colorado for over 10 years to reduce readmissions, improve communications in transitions of care, and improve clinical processes, especially related to chronic disease. The communities engaged in this program had higher populations of patients over the age of sixty, treated patients with multiple chronic conditions, and typically served a higher rate of socioeconomically disadvantaged patients.

At the conclusion of the program in February 2020, CRHC released a report detailing the accomplishments of 14 different communities across the state. These disparate community facilities achieved nationally notable improvements in patient and family communication, readmission rates, inappropriate Emergency Department usage, diabetic management, high blood pressure control, and more. To read the full report on iCARE’s accomplishments, please visit

CAHs and RHCs provide vital access to care in their rural communities, yet they are often overlooked in national and statewide healthcare initiatives. Additionally, many initiatives are designed for an urban environment. CRHC created iCARE as an opportunity to engage Colorado CAHs and their clinics in a statewide project aligning with national priorities, demonstrating sustainable improvements in reducing hospital readmissions and improving communication in transitions of care. The program highlights the unique characteristics of rural healthcare, the strengths of rural health facilities, and their capacity for innovation to meet the needs of their patients.

The iCARE program has come to a close, but as evidenced by this collection of stories and quantitative data, the work that communities have done continues and serves as a foundation for future improvement projects in their facilities. The results that iCARE communities achieved around chronic care served as a springboard for the creation of CRHC’s new quality initiative, the Colorado Rural Sustainability (CORS) Network.

The CORS Network aligns the goals and work of CRHC to focus on what makes rural healthcare organizations sustainable, so that they can thrive. The work of the Network will draw on the experiences of Colorado’s rural healthcare facilities and CRHC’s staff to help build up rural healthcare infrastructure.

“We are celebrating the closure of a tremendously successful program amidst the launch of a new venture. The CORS Network holds a lot of promise for the rural facilities in this state and it truly would not have been possible without the first foundation built by our iCARE communities,” said Natalie Kraus, CRHC’s Associate Director of Programs.

The CRHC is Colorado’s nonprofit State Office of Rural Health and Rural Health Association. CRHC works with Federal, state, and local partners to offer services and resources to rural healthcare providers, facilities and communities. In 2020, CRHC invested 5.6 million dollars in rural communities across the state.

For further information or details about the iCARE or CORs programs, visit or contact Natalie Kraus at [email protected]. For media inquiries, contact Michelle Mills at [email protected]

About The Colorado Rural Health Center
The Colorado Rural Health Center was established in 1991 as Colorado’s State Office of Rural Health. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, CRHC serves dual roles as the State Office of Rural Health with the mission of assisting rural communities in addressing healthcare issues; and as the State Rural Health Association, advocating for policy change to ensure that rural Coloradoans have access to comprehensive, affordable healthcare services of the highest quality. For more information visit, call 303-832-7493, or call toll free 800-851-6782 from rural Colorado.