Posted by Katherine Foley, July 10, 2019 (last updated on July 17, 2019)
Part two of a four-part series taking a look at the State of American Healthcare. Don't miss part one on Veterans Care.
About 60 million people, or 1 in 5 Americans, live in rural areas. While countryside living has many benefits, rural communities are increasingly seeing challenges in accessing quality healthcare.
There’s a mounting problem with rural healthcare roadblocks. In a 2019 study on life in rural America, 26% of adults stated there had been a time in the past few years when they needed care but didn’t get it. The key reasons?
- 19% couldn’t find a doctor who took their health insurance
- 45% couldn’t afford it
- 23% provider was too far away
- 22% no timely appointments available
Rural patients are looking for ways around these roadblocks. Telemedicine is one path they’re taking to get care when a doctor isn’t nearby. A recent NPR poll found that nearly a quarter of rural Americans have used a telemed service. This type of virtual care access can save a trip to the emergency room for non-urgent situations.
So what are some ways clinics can connect with rural patients? Check if your clinic offers solutions to the reasons given above as to why rural patients had trouble seeking care:
- Are accepted insurances listed online?
- Are prices for common services shown for those who don’t have insurance?
- Do far-away patients have virtual ways to reach a doctor?
- Are early morning or evening hours an option for patients who have a long commute?
There’s a lot of opportunity to connect with these rural communities and help improve access to the best healthcare available, no matter where a patient lives.