For Americans living in urban areas, there are many ways to gain access to quality medical services. However, one fifth of the U.S. population lives in rural areas where they may have to travel long distances to get the care they need. Although rural hospitals do exist in the great wide open, often times, those facilities don’t offer the same range of services available in larger hospitals.
According to the editors at HealthIT.gov, the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program was created in 1997 to help small hospitals strengthen their health care infrastructure. Since that time, rural facilities have focused on multiple initiatives, including the following:
- – Improve access to services, including urgent care services, and meet unmet community health needs in isolated rural communities
- – Engage rural communities in rural health care system development
- – Develop collaborative delivery stems in rural communities as the hubs of rural health care
- – Create transitions of care coordination with urban health care system alignment
- – Be the subject matter experts and coordinators for the health care environment of providers, patients and staff
Adopting health IT has proven to be an effective method toward achieving those initiatives, further improving the level of service available. HealthIT.gov explains that when distance between clinics is a hurdle or where specialists are few and far between, health IT can:
- – Give health care providers instant access to information they need to make timely, vital decisions and save lives
- – Decrease travel time for patients and their families
- – Enable rural hospitals to utilize remote clinicians, pharmacists, and staff members to improve and extend access
- – Facilitate efficient transfer to other facilities for vital services not offered locally
- – Facilitate efficient local care after intense care in a tertiary hospital by enabling patients to get care near their families and primary care providers
Therefore, just as technology in the health care industry is benefiting individuals living in emerging countries, so is the case for Americans living off the grid.