From 1993 to 1998, the South Dakota Department of Health addressed the decline in the number of its rural practice sites by creating four Regional Coordinated Care Networks to promote primary care linkages in underserved areas. Each network links three or more practice sites within a service area so they can provide support services to each other.
The health department's Office of Rural Health and Primary Care shared responsibility for the initiative with the University of South Dakota's Section on Rural Health.
The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Practice Sights: State Primary Care Development Strategies national program.
- The four Regional Coordinated Care Networks received grants for demonstration projects, as well as technical assistance from Department of Health staff and consultants on recruitment, retention and service integration.
- South Dakota completed a comprehensive statewide training needs assessment to identify the training needs of South Dakota's rural health care facilities.
- The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care established and publicized an 800 number for its recruitment clearinghouse, which receives three to four calls per day.
- The state created tuition reimbursement programs for both physicians and mid-level practitioners.
- The state co-sponsored a series of 12 workshops for health administrators on managed care, covering issues such as recruitment strategies and maximizing reimbursement.