Since 2009, medical students from the University of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine have been studying the gaps and strengths of health care on Martha’s Vineyard as part of the university’s Rural Health Scholars program.

On Thursday, two alums of the program returned to the Island to present this year’s research: a broad overview of the strengths and weakness of health care on the Island, compiled after a survey of the Rural Health Scholars’ 14 annual of studies and dozens of interviews with Island leaders.

Across 14 annual studies, researchers David Runyan and Gianna DiPinto identified a few primary themes, including improving language and communication resources, expanding mental health programming, and increasing local housing.

The past studies Mr. Runyan and Ms. DiPinto surveyed ranged from efforts to prevent elder mistreatment, address food insecurity and promote “inclusive recreation and leisure,” they said.

Mr. Runyan and Ms. DiPinto also looked at how former participants in the Rural Health Scholars project understood the current needs of the Island as well, Mr. Runyan said.

“We wanted to look at what already works here, what doesn’t work here, and then identify the themes among those things,” Mr. Runyan said.

Mr. Runyan and Ms. DiPinto said that in interviews with local leaders, language resources and communication between local groups emerged as the area most in need of improvement.

“Nearly all of the people that we spoke to said that communication and collaboration is the major thing that’s standing in the way of getting things done on the Island,” Mr. Runyan said.

In data compiled by Mr. Runyan and Ms. DiPinto, 92 per cent of interviewees independently brought up poor communication and collaboration as an area in need of improvement. A further 80 per cent of interviewees said that the “segregation” of resources between Island towns and institutions was a major issue.

Both the history of Rural Health Scholars studies and the current voices of the Island health care community concurred that improved “communication and collaboration” would most satisfy Island needs, Mr. Runyan and Ms. DiPinto said.

Mr. Runyan and Ms. DiPinto offered a handful of concrete ideas that could encourage this shared collaboration between Island groups. They encouraged the return of the all-Island selectboard meeting; the start of an annual community resources fair; and the return of First Stop, an online directory of health care resources formerly operated by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

“The community here has made such great progress on so many fronts. It truly is amazing,” Mr. Runyan said.

The next step is to make sure that the Island’s robust portfolio of local resources and professionals collaborate with their peers to get their message out to residents in need.