Meet the RioONE Health Information Exchange, dedicated to linking health communities in the Rio Grande Valley
Once a very rural area, Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley is undergoing rapid change. Since the 1980’s and 1990’s, the advent of the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) has fueled rapid growth due to increased trade with Mexico and the new factories (maquiladoras) located on the Mexican side of the border.
The growth has been especially strong in the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission metropolitan area; it’s now one of the fastest growing urban regions in the country.
Statistics prove it — Hidalgo County (Edinburg is the county seat) grew 35% in the decade from 2000 to 2010, when it reported a population of 774,769.
Rapid growth is one challenge facing the Rio One Health Network, one of our member health information organizations that serves Hidalgo County and the neighboring county to the west, Starr County.
The other issue is, despite rapid population growth, the area is still critically ‘underserved’ as far as healthcare services go; overall the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) area only scores 26.6 points on the Medically Underserved Area index (anything below 62 is considered ‘underserved’).
Fortunately, the Texas Legislature and the University of Texas System have taken notice. They approved a new medical school to be located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It is hoped that new Texas doctors and nurses who get their training in the area — known as The Texas Tropics — will choose to stay in the region and help alleviate the healthcare provider shortage.
Presently the Rio One Health Network has linked about 30% of the area institutions — from very small healthcare providers, like as the Hope Clinic and El Milagro Clinic (both indigent care clinics) to the large Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, in Edinburg, Texas. Among area doctors, about one third of the region’s doctors have voluntarily joined Rio One Health Network and will be connected later this year.
The efforts of Rio One have not gone unnoticed. They secured a foundation grant from Methodist Healthcare Ministries to bring local public indigent care clinics, including Hope Family Clinic, El Milagro Clinic, Hidalgo County Indigent Care Clinics and the Nuestra Clinica del Valle, which are the local Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).
To learn more, visit the RioONE Website.