If you’ve ever heard an update from R7 or NER before that, you’ve probably heard us talk about Focused Outreach. But what is Focused Outreach?
Focused Outreach brings the resources of the NNLM directly to communities to conduct a systematic approach of identifying partners, pursuing contacts, and developing relationships with key stakeholders through key informant interviews. Focused Outreach is an organized approach to identify community health assets and needs, and key partners. The goal is to assess health information use, promote resources, strengthen existing partnerships and create new ones. Focused Outreach is unique to R7.
The Focused Outreach regions are chosen at the beginning of the cooperative agreement with a focus on areas that have lower Network engagement. During this cooperative agreement (2021-2026), we’re specifically focusing on rural areas.
We look for key informants in a few different places including the Network Membership directory, connectioning through existing partners and even just through google.
In Year 1 (2021-2022), many of our visits to Aroostok (ME) County and Essex and Hamilton (NY) Counties came from existing partners connecting us to new partners.
Getting an interview can take a while because partners are busy and can involve many emails and even a few phone calls before the actual interview.
Over the last few years, we’ve been doing the interviews through Zoom, but in the past and (hopefully) soon, the interviews are done in person. Meeting in person allows us to see the communities we serve and get out in the region. We’re looking forward to being able to conduct interviews in-person again.
The interview itself is a 30-minute semi-structured conversations about the health needs, health information needs and health information seeking behaviors of the organization staff, as well as the people in the community.
During the interview, we’re also able to connect the needs we’re hearing to NLM and NNLM resources and services and start the conversation about how we might be able to help.
Information from key informant interviews helps us make sure that we’re providing information and resources that are useful to the communities we serve.
We often hear similar themes around the need for better internet access and the digital divide, issues with transportation and barriers to access, and the needs of aging populations and their caregivers.
But each region is also unique in their needs or where they’re focused. At Cary Medical Center (Aroostook, ME), our partners have a focus on radon and connecting community members to education and abatement services to prevent lung cancer.
For partners who participate in the Focused Outreach process, there are additional opportunities for engagement during their Focused Outreach year and beyond. including training, support and sometimes a small grant.
For example, this year Cary Medical Center received a small grant to purchase radon education materials including a doll house that allows them to demonstrate where radon is often found in homes and what the testing and abatement processes entail.
Year 1 Focused Outreach partners were also encouraged to apply for funding through the R7 regular grant process.
In Year 2, we’ll be heading to Berkshire County, MA and the four northern most counties in Vermont, Grand Isle, Franklin, Orleans, and Essex.
Year 2 is also the beginning of a new Focused Outreach designed to put data to who we’re reaching and make sure the process is running smoothly.
Are you located in one of the areas we’re targeting for Year 2? Reach out and let us know you’re interested in participating in Focused Outreach.