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Telehealth in Rural Areas Essay

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2022

Telehealth has been recognized as a useful tool to assist healthcare institutions, systems, and providers to increase access to healthcare and improve its quality. It is also expected to improve the monitoring, timeliness, and communication efforts within the healthcare systems. With the help of telecommunication technology and other electronic data, telehealth assists with providing clinical healthcare services remotely, including such services as patient education, administrative measures, and peer meetings. It can take several forms, such as remote patient monitoring (RPM), mobile health communication (mHealth), as well as the storage and forwarding of transmission of medical information across parties.

People residing in rural areas of the US are more likely to die prematurely from the five leading causes of death, such as heart disease, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, cancer, and accidental injury compared to their urban counterparts. Therefore, telehealth represents an opportunity to improve the health of rural residents. In rural areas, telehealth is used as a means for delivering and assisting with the provision of healthcare services by reducing or minimizing the limitations and burdens that patients encounter, including issues with accessing transportation to get specialty care.

Even though telehealth implementation has its challenges in rural areas, scholarly evidence suggests that it represents a useful tool for enhancing health care access and outcomes. According to Leath et al. (2018), who studied the effects of the telehealth EcoSystemTM Model, it was possible to increase the expansion of the healthcare system to incorporate multiple stakeholders and organizations together with the ecosystem of telehealth. By doing so, the participating entities could connect “to each other, to the regional, state, and national resources, and to the Internet at minimum costs” (Leath et al., 2018, p. 218). Therefore, web-based solutions are shown to be the most cost-effective and efficient for rural communities, according to the study. Examples of the anticipated use of telehealth include the enhanced process of coordinating medical care between healthcare providers, improved assessments of care for the initiatives of quality improvement, disease surveillance by public health agencies, increased community engagement, as well as the strengthened partnership between academics and healthcare providers.

In the current COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth in rural areas has never been as relevant. Due to the additional restrictions placed on access to healthcare services, rural patients require the increased availability of telehealth resources to consult with their physicians or specialized professionals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have increased access to telemedicine services, with the advantages of telehealth moving forward to include their cost-effectiveness, the ability to extend access to specialty services, as well as the potential to help reduce the shortage of physicians (Kichloo et al., 2020). Overall, offering telehealth in rural communities is an important step toward alleviating the burden on physicians while allowing patients to access health. It will bring specialist and primary care to remote communities while also helping to reduce the costs of receiving care, including childcare costs, cut travel time, and provide more time off work for patients who do not need to travel remotely to get to their doctors. It should be noted that continued research is necessary to study further the effectiveness of telehealth in rural areas, especially in the context of the pandemic. Now is the time for the US healthcare system to implement telemedicine services to their full extent to be prepared for the high demand in healthcare on the part of the rural population.

References

Kichloo, A., Albosta, M., Dettloff, K., Wani, F., El-Amir, Z., Singh, J., Aljadah, M., Chakinala, R. C., Kanugula, A. K., Solanki, S., & Chugh, S. (2020). Telemedicine, the current COVID-19 pandemic and the future: a narrative review and perspectives moving forward in the USA. Family Medicine and Community Health, 8(3), e000530. Web.

Leath, B. A., Dunn, L. W., Alsobrook, A., & Darden, M. L. (2018). Enhancing rural population health care access and outcomes through the telehealth EcoSystem™ Model. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 10(2), e218. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Telehealth in Rural Areas." June 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/telehealth-in-rural-areas/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Telehealth in Rural Areas'. 15 June.

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