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TELEMEDICINE CAN BOOST RURAL HEALTHCARE

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Telemedicine has a profound impact on the healthcare industry. Healthcare facilities are seeing the benefits of the technology, but the biggest challenge could arguably be on those living in remote areas. People living in rural communities have limited access to healthcare resources.

Instead of waiting for days for an appointment, telemedicine enables remote physician consultations. For a follow up on existing conditions or simple health concerns, remote consultations can dramatically improve the patient experience.

Some great strides have been made in remotely accessible healthcare in the past few years. Telemedicine improves the quality of care, and reduces readmissions and unnecessary emergency visits, thereby cutting down costs.

Healthcare facilities in remote areas can take advantage of telemedicine in different ways, through in-home monitoring, remote consultations and outsourced diagnostic analysis.

1. In-home monitoring improves intervention time

With telemedicine, patients no longer need to drive long distances to see a doctor. Patients diagnosed with diabetes, heart failure, and those who experienced frequent hospitalizations are monitored by telehealth at home and results are later sent to the doctor or nurse electronically over the internet. This reduces the amount of in-person doctor visits, significantly improving the response and intervention times.

2. Remote consultations can bring doctors anywhere

Telehealth allows physicians to connect with their patients living in rural communities via video conferencing. Then, instead of taking time off traveling to the doctor’s office, care can be given almost immediately with less inconvenience.

3. Mobile imaging and web-based report improve diagnostics

Rural communities generally don’t have their own diagnosticians. Mobile imaging centers and lab specimen “kiosks” can perform X-rays, while also sending the data electronically to large healthcare facilities where they can be read and analyzed.

This not just improves diagnostics, but also provides healthcare facilities in remote areas with specialized staff and technology.

Challenges in Telemedicine

With telemedicine, rural hospitals have started following a path towards recovery, but obstacles still remain.

It’s not just a lack of resources; rural communities also have to face trouble with the necessary broadband infrastructure, which is needed for doctors using telemedicine to communicate with patients. Remote consultations amount to nothing, if there isn’t a stable broadband connection to support it.

Another barrier is reimbursement by insurance companies. Currently, there is no standard telemedicine reimbursement system. The insured person needs to check with the company, whether or not, they will cover telemedicine services.

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