More than 60 million Americans live in rural communities, where small hospitals strain to stay open amid increasing healthcare demands and dwindling revenue. Today, Nov. 15, 2018, is for them, and for the dedicated healthcare providers among them.
It’s National Rural Health Day, the third Thursday in November designated by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health to celebrate rural healthcare providers and call attention to the unique health needs of rural populations. More than 80 small community hospitals have closed since 2010; hundreds of others struggle to survive.
Telehealth services, now offered by several healthcare systems nationwide, have become a lifeline for rural patients who can’t always travel the distances required to reach urban hospitals for care. Physicians and other healthcare providers electronically communicate “face to face” with these patients to help them manage everything from influenza to chronic conditions such as diabetes or congestive heart failure.
But as demand for long-distance healthcare grows, telehealth isn’t the only solution (nor the best one) available to healthcare providers.