Rural & Medically Underserved Communities Need Telehealth to Manage Critical Health Issues
By Michael Gorton,
Currently, there is a large-scale push to make permanent some of the emergency policies related to telehealth access during the pandemic. Telehealth has enabled physicians to care for their patients during this difficult time of limited face-to-face contact, especially those in rural and medically underserved areas. Virtual care has become an integral part of care delivery and doctors are the latest group to press for making these changes permanent to keep the telehealth momentum going into the future.
The reality is that millions of Americans live in medically urban underserved areas and some 46 million Americans live in rural areas, which is 15 percent of the population. Together, they make up a substantial percentage of the American population who can benefit from telehealth because they experience these critical healthcare services shortages.
In fact, the Biden Administration recently allocated a small but vital $19 million investment in digital health to expand access to rural and medically underserved populations so they can receive better health services in primary care, acute care, and behavioral healthcare. Several telehealth initiatives will specifically help with complex conditions including long COVID and substance use disorder.
For starters, telehealth is helping rural and medically underserved communities tackle critical health issues because it can be accessed from anywhere and at any time, providing connectivity to a large network of healthcare professionals and serving patients no matter where they live or their circumstance.