Residents and health care providers in rural communities face different health care challenges than people in urban communities. At the same time, rural communities, regions and health systems can be very different from one another.

Factors like travel time, transportation costs, population fluctuations and the presence of certain industries can differ among rural communities. Age, gender, language, culture, ethnicity and religion all influence a population’s health needs, health service use and health outcomes.

Health system planners and decision-makers can use CIHI’s Rural Health Systems Model to

  • Identify key factors that significantly influence the population health, health needs, system use and health system performance of rural communities
  • Better understand the unique characteristics and needs of rural health systems
  • Explain what contributes to performance differences among rural communities, and identify meaningful comparator communities

Using CIHI’s Rural Health Systems Model

Use the model to improve your understanding of rural community health needs, system use and health system performance. The following resources can help you get started:

Job aid: A guide to gathering qualitative and quantitative information about the key contextual factors identified in the model. Read the job aid.

Worksheet: Use this worksheet, in conjunction with the job aid, to capture information about the factors that significantly influence our rural health systems. Use the worksheet.

Education: Register for the course 1049E — Using CIHI’s Rural Health Systems Model to Guide Planning and Performance Management.