It’s a well-known fact that rural healthcare systems often struggle with limited resources. As a result, agricultural communities often suffer at the hands of inferior care. Robust healthcare systems play an integral role in keeping communities whole.
In this article, we take a look at what healthcare services in rural areas can do to provide better care for their patients.
Make Use of Telehealth Services
One of the main shortcomings of rural healthcare is that it lacks the resources of larger communities. There may be only several doctors and nurses serving a relatively large population. They can’t give every complaint equal attention. With limited resources, higher priority naturally goes to emergency situations, to the extent that minor complaints may be postponed, or forgotten about.
Here’s the rub: preventative care is key to reducing the number of major medical events in the first place. Without it, the overall healthcare system is trapped in a self-defeating circle. Major cases get all the attention. Minor complaints are left unaddressed until they become major.
Telehealth can reduce the burden. Using digital communication technology, patients can get easy access to their physicians, asking them questions with the click of a few buttons. Consequently, doctors get a good idea of their patient’s health even when they aren’t able to come in. The system is unburdened and people still get high-quality preventative care.
Equally valuable is high-quality mental health services — a resource that communities all over the country, rural or not often lack. Telemental services provide patients with an approachable means of getting high-quality care. Not only can they access the services at any time, even without access to a car, but they don’t have to worry about the stigma so often associated with seeking help for mental illness.
Many people avoid getting treatment for their mental health conditions because they are worried about being associated with their illness. Telehealth eliminates this need by keeping things anonymous. There is no potential for Betty from down the block to see you walking into a shrink’s office when you are tucked away at home.
Mobile Service Clinics
Another rural problem: communities are often significantly more spread out than they are in cities. Miles and miles may separate town people from the nearest hospital. Fine for people with steady access to transportation, but what about for those who can’t drive?
Mobile health clinics bridge the gap, giving everyone access to high-quality healthcare on the fly. Mobile stations can be altered to suit a wide variety of healthcare needs, from medical to dental, or even vision.
Encourage Wearable Health Technology
Wearables provide physicians with real-time health data. They can be sophisticated, like an IoT-infused heart monitor, or rather simple. Fitbit counts as wearables, providing up-to-second insights on heart rate, as well as a variety of other important fitness metrics.
Wearables are great anywhere, but particularly in communities that need to be selective in what they focus on. With IoT-infused devices, caregivers can see what health conditions are impacting their community the most, and respond accordingly. They are also better positioned to provide higher-quality preventative care.
Now, they can access information on their patient’s vitals at any time, instead of just once or twice a year. This gives them a much more informed idea of what the patient’s health is really like.
Go Directly to the Schools
Low-income children are distinctly disadvantaged when it comes to healthcare access. Of course, not all children in rural communities are economically disadvantaged. However, there is a startling number who are. For them, robust school health services can be life-changing.
Communities that make allocations for school dentists, eye, and physical examinations give children access to the care they might otherwise not have any way to get.
Finally, rural communities improve their overall operations by increasing cyber security. Cyber threats can be debilitating, locking the hospital out of important files and other digital processes. With the right support, records are kept safe and delays are minimized.