The Impact of Telehealth on Rural and Remote Communities: Bridging the Healthcare Gap

March 12, 2023by Phenix Health

Telehealth has the potential to improve access to care for rural and remote communities. However, the technology remains limited by a lack of infrastructure and staff in these areas.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary policies and legislation were adopted to increase access to telehealth services for patients and providers. These policies are now likely to remain in place.

Increased Access to Health Care

In rural and remote communities, access to healthcare is a major concern. Patients have to travel hours to reach specialists and services they need, which can negatively impact their health.

Traditionally, telehealth has been a cost-effective solution to improve access to care. Today, telehealth has evolved into a powerful tool that can be used to provide health care from any location with an internet connection.

Rural and Remote

A telehealth system can help rural physicians deliver care without leaving their home. In addition, telehealth can also allow doctors to treat more patients in a shorter amount of time.

A telehealth system can significantly improve the overall health of rural communities, especially in rural areas that deal with major health disparities. This will help rural residents receive the health care they need and deserve, boosting their quality of life. Moreover, telehealth can help rural residents live healthier lifestyles and reduce the risk of chronic disease. This will help them enjoy better health outcomes and lead a longer, happier life.

Reduced Barriers to Care

In rural and remote communities, telehealth services can reduce many of the barriers that prevent access to health care. These barriers can include lack of access to healthcare providers, limited internet connectivity, and poor transportation options.

Similarly, telehealth services can help patients receive follow-ups and care for their chronic conditions, reducing the risk of readmissions and limiting flare-ups. It also allows nurses and physicians to check-in on discharged patients to ensure they are receiving the right care, preventing unscheduled visits to their primary care provider or hospital.

In addition to reducing the barriers that prevent care from reaching patients, telehealth services can also help communities improve their overall healthcare infrastructure. This can include repurposing community sites as health care access points, bringing medical supplies to rural areas, and creating a network of healthcare professionals to help residents access essential services. These services can help a community address long-standing health care challenges and provide a more equitable and responsive healthcare system for all.

Increased Patient Satisfaction

Patients in rural and remote areas are often at a greater risk of poor health outcomes. They are more likely to be unemployed or have low-incomes, and they live far from specialized health care providers.

Telehealth provides an option to reduce barriers to care for people living in these communities. It may allow patients to communicate with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals at a distance through video-chat platforms such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts video chat, Zoom, or Skype.

In addition to increased access, telehealth services also provide increased patient satisfaction. Studies show that telehealth interventions are often successful and well-accepted in rural and underserved populations.

It may be especially effective for people with mobility issues that make getting to a health appointment difficult, or for those who suffer from mental health conditions such as social anxiety or agoraphobia. It may allow them to continue their healthcare care at home through virtual appointments that are accessible on their phones or computers, reducing costs and improving their quality of life.

Increased Revenue

During times of high patient volume, telehealth services can help healthcare providers increase revenue by increasing appointment volumes. For example, a primary care provider can offer on-demand telehealth appointments to fill in gaps in their schedule and increase visits by reducing no-shows.

A telehealth solution can also improve care coordination, preventing patients from being transferred to urgent care or the emergency room unnecessarily. This can save money and provide more efficient practice operations while allowing your office staff to focus on patients who need care.

Telehealth can also help reduce readmissions by enabling patients to check in with physicians after discharge from the hospital or home. This prevents them from having to make unplanned trips back to the hospital, flaring up disease symptoms or advancing into more serious conditions.