Rural Doctors Turn to Telemedicine for Solving Access to Specialty Care
Individuals and families living in rural areas often struggle to find accessible and affordable healthcare. Rural areas tend to have far fewer providers per capita than urban locations, and even fewer specialists. In addition to limited availability, rural patients often make less income than those living in cities. This can make traveling to and affording healthcare services more challenging.
Unfortunately, lack of proper healthcare can have serious consequences for those living in rural areas. Rural patients often experience higher rates of chronic disease like heart disease, diabetes, and COPD. Rural patients also have a much higher mortality rate than individuals living in urban areas where specialized care is more accessible. Another issue facing people in rural areas, rural patients are far less likely to seek treatment for mental health disorders. This is due in part to the lack of availability of mental health specialists.
Even if patients can get an appointment with a general practitioner, many conditions require specialized care. When specialized care is necessary, rural patients must often choose between waiting months for an appointment with a specialist or skipping care entirely. Specialists in rural areas often travel from one clinic to the next, sometimes driving hours between clinics each day. This can quickly lead to provider burnout, reducing the quality of care they are able to provide.
In order to reduce mortality rates and ensure better outcomes for patients, it’s crucial that rural patients have access to affordable and quality care.
Telemedicine Brings Specialized Care to Rural Areas
Although not a new concept, telemedicine enables healthcare providers to offer care to patients in rural areas. Patients can attend virtual appointments and receive care without having to worry about childcare, traveling to an office location, or leaving work. Providers can schedule appointments at any time that is convenient to both patient and provider, increasing rural patient accessibility to quality care.
In addition to reducing or minimizing the challenges or burdens that commonly prevent rural patients from seeking care, telemedicine can significantly improve patient monitoring, timeliness, and communications related to care. This may be especially beneficial to rural patients suffering from chronic conditions.
Telemedicine uses telecommunications technology to allow healthcare providers to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients with a wide range of conditions. In addition to providing rural patients with much needed medical care and attention, telemedicine enables providers to provide education, perform administrative functions, and conduct peer meetings at a distance. Patient and provider never need to come in contact with each other, making it possible to provide care and exchange data safely and securely regardless of patient and provider location.
Telemedicine provides numerous benefits to both providers and patients in rural areas. Through telehealth services, patients can gain access to specialists when they need them. Connecting remotely through an Internet connection enables specialists to provide care to more patients without having to travel from one office to the next. This increases productivity and reduces the chance of provider burnout.
Increasing the Level of Care Rural Patients Receive
Telemedicine can increase healthcare accessibility in rural areas. This can have a positive effect on quality of life and longevity. Telehealth services enable rural patients to connect with healthcare providers and specialists quickly and securely without having to travel to an office or medical facility.
Let’s Talk Interactive provides HIPAA-compliant telemedicine solutions to healthcare providers. Our solutions provide an efficient and convenient way for patients and providers to connect. Please contact us for more information about our telehealth solutions.