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Community health at a crossroads: How technology can address the challenges

If you live in a small or rural community, you’re less likely to get the basic healthcare you need. Technology can do more to bridge the gap in care for these populations.

In these areas, residents tend to be older, have lower incomes, and see a higher incidence of chronic conditions. Residents in these areas often lack healthcare coverage or live far from a provider who could regularly manage their health.

The federal government estimates that 50 million Americans live in these “healthcare shortage areas,” and research shows the facilities that can serve them have been closing in recent years.

A 2018 article from the Washington Post showed, in vivid detail, one rural couple’s struggle to manage health conditions that severely impacted their quality of life. In this case, the couple could barely access or afford their nearest providers – a free temporary clinic and the nearest emergency room, both hours away. Once they reached those providers, they were unable to treat more than one urgent issue each.

Technology closes community health gaps

As patients are struggling with physical distance from providers, and providers are struggling with limited financial or human resources, healthcare technology can go a long way to addressing the problems faced in these communities.

The right technology partner enables community health providers to store data remotely and securely, which helps to manage costs and allows more focus on patient care. It also can give providers access to a pool of relevant population data, along with relevant insights, to support actions beneficial to patient care. Telehealth tools can connect providers with patients across distances, reducing expenses for patients and supporting them in managing ongoing conditions.

Overall, as rural and community populations shift, the increasing capabilities of technology can help deliver the care they need and support better health and quality of life.

Our white paper, “Rural & Community Healthcare at a Crossroads,” explores these challenges and solutions in more detail. It shows in-depth data on the characteristics of these populations and the care they need, and it explores how technology tools can strengthen and broaden providers’ reach, empower patients and lead to better outcomes for all.

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