A year in review: NRHA and All of Us
Alex T. Olson
Over the last several months, NRHA has proudly served as an official partner of the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program. Read about our work here and here.
All of Us is a historic, longitudinal effort to gather data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research and improve health. By taking into account individual differences in lifestyle, socioeconomics, environment, and more, researchers will be able to uncover paths toward delivering precision medicine — individualized prevention, treatment, and care — to everyone.
NRHA is excited to join the celebration of All of Us’ one-year anniversary, which officially occured May 6. In the last thirteen months, the program has enrolled more than 200,000 participants, roughly 152,000 of whom have completed all of the initial steps of the protocol.
From the onset, All of Us aimed to have 75 percent of participants come from historically underrepresented communities in biomedical research (UBR), including rural Americans. In the first 12 months of enrollment, the program exceeded this goal. Right now, more than 80 percent of all participants come from UBR communities, and 51.5 percent represent racial or ethnic minority populations. This kind of diversity is necessary to arm researchers with the data to better understand differences in community health and develop individualized treatment programs to address health disparities and inequities.
NRHA is proud to be a part of the of the Community and Provider Gateway Initiative, a group of community-based organizations across the U.S. that supports the All of Us Research Program and ensures diverse populations are included in this historic research effort. We are now part of a group that has grown to include more than 100 awardee organizations helping to build program infrastructure, raise awareness about the value of participation, and drive enrollment.
Coincidentally, the one year anniversary of the All of Us program fell just one day before NRHA’s Health Equity Conference and Annual Rural Health Conference, which were held May 7-10 in Atlanta.
On May 7, we brought together more than 150 rural health advocates for our Health Equity Conference which focused on how we can be thoughtful and strategic in repairing rural health disparities. Rural Americans are nearly 40 percent more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, 8.6 percent more likely to suffer from diabetes, and 5.5 percent more likely to suffer from obesity compared to those living in urban centers.
The Health Equity Conference also focused on how precision medicine and programs like All of Us can help create a future where no American has to grapple with poorer health outcomes as a result of where they live, how they look, or how much money they make. Cody Mullens, Indiana Rural Health Association policy, research, and development officer, presented on his experience supporting the All of Us Research Program, shared the program’s goals, and taught participants how they can get involved and encourage enrollment in their own communities.
Immediately following the health equity event, our Annual Rural Health Conference drew more than 1,000 attendees. It allowed us to continue the conversation on rural communities’ long-term health and well-being. We were fortunate enough to be joined by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. Both discussed how they are working to achieve better outcomes for rural Americans.
The beta version of the All of Us data browser is now live, including snapshots and a survey explorer to allow the public to learn more about our participant community and explore summary data from surveys, physical measurements, and electronic health records. In the coming months, the program will be making its initial set of data available for in-depth analysis. Researchers will be able to apply for access and use the data in a wide variety of studies. This is just the beginning of an exciting future in health and medicine, and we at NRHA are excited for our continued work with NIH and All of Us.
To learn more about All of Us, visit JoinAllofUs.org/together.
NRHA partnered with the National Institutes of Health to produce the above piece for publication within the Association’s Rural Health Voices blog