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Telehealth in Rural America: Bringing Care to the Patient

The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as the “use of electronic communication and information technology to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration.”

It seems like such a system would benefit….well, just about anybody. So why is there so much emphasis on the importance of continued telehealth implementation in rural communities? Let’s see, based on recent studies, it saves money for both patients and insurance companies; it increases the community of healthcare providers in rural areas; and, oh yes- it saves lives.

That seems pretty important to us.

So important, in fact, that the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services wrote an entire policy brief, Telehealth in Rural America, in March 2015, outlining its definitions, benefits, and projections for the future. In the brief, the Committee outlines the two main facets of rural telehealth as “Interactive Telecommunications” (the 2-way, real time communication between doctor and patient) and “Asynchronous Store & Forward” (transmission of patient records from the original medical office to remote sites).  They then go on to explain why these options are so vital to rural communities.

  • Interactive telecommunication saves patients both time and money, especially those who need to pay for transportation to reach the nearest medical facility. It saves medical facilities and insurance companies money on last-minute cancellations that often result from a patient’s inability to make time or find adequate transportation for an appointment.
  • Both interactive telecommunication and Store & Forward easily connect medical professionals to each other, which leads to a greater number and variety of medical professionals joining a rural community. This, in turn, leads to more efficient patient care and a much lower burnout rate for doctors in the area.

Telehealth is vital in rural communities. It brings services to patients who otherwise might not have the time or money to receive much-needed care. It turns scattered and sparsely-located medical offices into a cohesive team of medical professionals. It saves money for everyone involved. It’s growing and evolving year after year.

Simply put, telehealth improves patient wellness, enhances professional satisfaction, and brings rural communities together.

About GD (General Devices)
GD enables smarter patient care by empowering hospitals, EMS, community healthcare and public safety with the most comprehensive, interactive, configurable, affordable, and integrated FDA listed medical communication and mobile telemedicine solutions. The benefits of which are enhanced workflows, minimized risk, reduced costs and improved patient outcomes. Learn more at www.general-devices.com

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