Does telemedicine improve healthcare access in rural areas?

Posted On: June 9, 2022

Posted By: AppsRhino

blog-image

Introduction

Are you one of the 71% of patients who have said that they considered using Telemedicine as an alternative to in-person appointments at some point? If not, are you wondering what they see in Telemedicine? I hope you aren't astonished after knowing that 93% of telehealth/ telemedicine appointments were unrelated to COVID-19. Therefore, it is safe to say that Telemedicine didn't need Covid-19 to establish its dominance. But if not the pandemic, what did it have that made people use it? Moreover, it is not just the Urban population that uses it; even rural areas have seen an increase in the adoption of Telemedicine. Are you curious how Telemedicine helps these remotely located people have better treatment? You will get your answers here in this blog. So stick around to know how Telemedicine improves healthcare in rural areas!

Summary

What are the challenges that Telemedicine faces in rural areas?

  1. Rural People's acceptance
  2. Network and connectivity
  3. Licensure
  4. Deployment costs
  5. Reduced human interaction

How does Telemedicine facilitate medical care in Rural America?

  1. Quick access to doctors and specialists
  2. Advance chronic disease care
  3. Enhances rural doctors' competence

Is telehealth usage widespread in rural facilities?

Rural and urban hospitals enforced telehealth at similar rates.

What financial impact could the addition of telemedicine services have on a rural facility and community?

The following are the quantifiable benefits of Telemedicine:

  1. Minimizing lost wages
  2. Increased local lab and pharmacy profits
  3. Decreased transportation costs
  4. Reduced hospital staffing costs

The following are the non-quantifiable benefits of Telemedicine:

  1. Providing timely care
  2. Reducing the need for transportation
  3. Improved patient outcomes
  4. Increased access to specialists
  5. Ensuring patient comfort
  6. Benefits to the provider

How can one use Telemedicine to bring treatment to rural people's homes?

  1. E-visits
  2. Remote patient monitoring
  3. Mobile health
  4. Telecare
  5. Telebehavioral health

What are the Telemedicine Use Cases?

  1. Dermatology
  2. Cardiology.
  3. Ophthalmology
  4. Psychiatry
  5. Emergency care
  6. Orthopedics
  7. Nursing
  8. Physical therapy

Telemedicine Pros

  1. Easy access to specialists
  2. Lower cost
  3. Medical access for individuals without health insurance
  4. Medical access for people in rural areas
  5. Medical access for individuals in underserved urban areas
  6. Reduced exposure to pathogens

Telemedicine: What are the challenges that Telemedicine faces in rural areas?

Following are the issues faced by Telemedicine in rural areas.

Telemedicine: Rural People's acceptance

The first challenge Telemedicine faces in rural areas are the lack of acceptance. Rural people still find it hard to use modern technologies because of a lack of education and awareness. For them, solace lies in using the conventional method of treatment, and this style of dispensing healthcare facilities delay the proper treatment.

Telemedicine: Network and connectivity

Finding good internet connectivity, speed, and network in rural areas is challenging. These are the issues on which telecommunication companies and the healthcare industry are currently working. They aim to strengthen the networks and the broadband services and make these available to people at affordable prices.

Telemedicine: Licensure

A physician needs to obtain a license from the official licensing board in the state he desires to practice and provide healthcare facilities to people. A license is crucial as it ensures that no illegal service providers are in the market and that people are in safe hands.

To ease these obstacles, the states in the world are taking various steps such as:

  1. interstate compacts
  2. endorsement with the other states
  3. a license for the telemedicine services

Telemedicine: Deployment costs

It is expensive to set up an entire telecommunication system in rural areas. Besides the telecommunication system, one also needs to splurge money on practical training and data management tools.

Telemedicine: Reduced human interaction

Telemedicine in rural areas can be challenging as it reduces human interaction with their doctors, thus, not forming the patient-doctor bond. This situation leads to erroneous diagnoses and medication prescriptions.

These are the challenges that Telemedicine faces in rural areas. Now let us look at how Telemedicine ameliorates Medical Care in Rural America.

How does Telemedicine facilitate medical care in Rural America?

Telemedicine: Quick access to doctors and specialists

Today, there are 40 primary care physicians for every 100,000 residents in rural areas. In contrast, the ratio is 53.3 per 100,000 residents in the urban area. This ratio is 30 specialists per 100,000 residents in rural areas as far as specialists are concerned. This number suggests that rural people need to commute to urban areas to get treated. On average, one must embark on a 30-minute journey every time they need treatments for their ailments. However, Telemedicine now relieves them from going to urban areas as they can get in touch with specialists right from their homes. Telemedicine has given people the convenience of virtual visits.

Telemedicine: Advance chronic disease care

People who suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes can measure their readings right from their homes. Also, they can send it to the doctors to make arrangements before the patients arrive at the hospitals. This action reduces hospital readmissions and emergency room visits.

Telemedicine: Enhances rural doctors' competence

Generally, physicians in rural areas are general practitioners and might not be able to provide top-notch care to people. However, Telemedicine delivers a means for these doctors to get in touch with specialists residing and working in urban areas. For instance, a patient with a stroke can get the proper treatment when the rural practitioner contacts a neurologist team and works together on the patient's treatment.

Now we know what the problems are that Telemedicine faces and how it facilitates medical care in rural areas. Let's focus on how widespread it is in rural facilities and more.

Telemedicine: Is telehealth usage widespread in rural facilities?

According to a 2016 JAMA article, telemedicine visits for rural Medicare beneficiaries grew from 2004 to 2013 at 28%. Also, approximately 80% of rural beneficiary telehealth visits were regarding mental health conditions. The article also revealed that Rural and urban hospitals enforced telehealth at similar rates. Generally, one will find a rural physician using Telemedicine to assist with providing radiology, emergency, and trauma healthcare services. Most hospitals that identify as academic centers, hospitals affiliated with a more extensive healthcare system, or not-for-profits were more likely to have some form of telehealth/ telemedicine.

Let us now read about how Telemedicine services financially impact rural facilities and communities.

What financial impact could the addition of telemedicine services have on a rural facility and community?

The following are the quantifiable benefits of Telemedicine:

  1. Minimizing lost wages
  2. Increased local lab and pharmacy profits
  3. Decreased transportation costs
  4. Reduced hospital staffing costs The following are the non-quantifiable benefits of Telemedicine:
  5. Providing timely care
  6. Reducing the need for transportation
  7. Improved patient outcomes
  8. Increased access to specialists
  9. Ensuring patient comfort
  10. Benefits to the provider

How can one use Telemedicine to bring treatment to rural people's homes?

One brings Telemedicine to rural people's homes in the following ways:

  1. E-visits
  2. Remote patient monitoring
  3. Mobile health
  4. Telecare
  5. Telebehavioral health

Now let us see the study about the use cases of Telemedicine below.

Telemedicine use cases: What are the Telemedicine Use Cases?

Following are the eight Telemedicine use cases.

Telemedicine Use cases #1: Dermatology

  1. Permits sharing skin pigments photographs
  2. Other things that one can share here are as follows:
  3. Nevii
  4. Scars
  5. Rashes
  6. Abscesses One can share pictures of these things to get immediate consultation.

Telemedicine Use cases #2: Cardiology.

It involves examining and monitoring patients with cardia diseases via wearables or electronic stethoscopes and Tele-ECG.

Telemedicine Use cases #3: Ophthalmology

It means taking macro photos of an eye with the help of a smartphone camera and optical attachments.

Telemedicine Use cases #4: Psychiatry

It involves using mobile apps for video consultation and prescription.

Telemedicine Use cases #5: Emergency care

It provides consultation and instructions while waiting for emergency support. Telemedicine Use cases #6: Orthopedics It involves monitoring and sharing X-rays and consulting via telecommunication.

Telemedicine Use cases #7: Nursing

It provides nursing services for non-critical cases and minor injuries. These injuries include bruises and mild burns. It means giving instructions on wound medication and treatment.

Telemedicine Use cases #8: Physical therapy

It involves guiding patients on sport-related injury treatment by prescribing appropriate exercise, regimes, and diets.

Let us now read a few Telemedicine pros below.

Telemedicine Pros

Telemedicine Pros #1: Easy access to specialists

People who work around the corner need Telemedicine as it lets them contact physicians at a time of their convenience without even an appointment.

Telemedicine Pros #2: Lower cost

In-person doctor consultations can be expensive, whereas Telemedicine is affordable and costs less than the former type of consultation. Lowered costs mean low barriers to care.

Telemedicine Pros #3: Medical access for individuals without health insurance

Telemedicine does not require one to have health insurance or need referrals. Thus, those without these things can still get the proper treatment.

Telemedicine Pros #4: Medical access for people in rural areas

This perk is self-explanatory. Rural people also have their hands on the treatment they deserve, without even traveling miles to obtain it. Whatever the weather and environmental conditions, they are sure to get the treatment as and when required.

Telemedicine Pros #5: Medical access for individuals in underserved urban areas

Most hospitals are in inner-city neighborhoods, which prevents thousands of Americans from being treated. However, Telemedicine allows such people to obtain the proper treatment before becoming extremely sick.

Telemedicine Pros #6: Lower exposure to pathogens

Patients grappling with Covid-19, other viruses, or flu can spread the germs and infections in the hospital if they visit them. We have a solution due to Telemedicine as it acts as a means to let them consult doctors without even stepping out of their homes.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, Telemedicine has miles to grow, and it is a boon for urban and rural areas. Today, remotely located people can get the treatment they deserve at an affordable cost. Moreover, it gives rural physicians a chance to learn and grow as medical practitioners. Suppose you are someone who serves in rural areas or a healthcare provider. If you want to let rural people have their fundamental right to healthcare, count us in! Contact AppsRhino today to get a fantastic telemedicine app at dynamic pricing!