As a leading telehealth company, Trapollo has been pushing the limitations of the connected health space for years — examining the benefits of delivering healthcare to rural areas of America. Today, our infrastructure is positioned to help transform what it means to receive healthcare in America for citizens of rural areas, gaining easier access to greater resources has provided massive utility.
Let’s dive into a few common obstacles rural communities face when receiving healthcare, followed by a look at specific solutions to tackle them — including low cost devices, remote patient monitoring, and a greater understanding of treatment.
Common Obstacles in Rural Healthcare
To understand why healthcare in rural areas would benefit from connected health, it’s important to outline the common challenges of rural area healthcare. What sort of challenges occur when trying to bring healthcare to rural areas?
Lack of Healthcare Information Infrastructure
Fewer people in an area means a lack of societal and cultural reasons for healthcare discussion. Innovation in the healthcare space tends to happen in metropolitan areas, which are inherently rich with academic institutions and research hospitals. As such, it is harder for in-person providers to effectively communicate with rural patients.
Limited Availability of Health Care Personnel and Services
Living in a rural or remote area of America can mean a lack of both healthcare services and practitioners that can provide such services. Because rural areas are less populated, there’s less revenue available for providers, especially for more specific ailments. Providers simply can’t afford to offer all types of care to every rural community.
In turn, rural citizens lack access to providers of more nuanced diseases and medical services. For rural patients affected by these issues, the closest care center can be hundreds of miles away, making quality care inaccessible.
Providers supporting rural areas may also face increased wait times and backed-up appointments due to incredibly high demand. As such, even the closest healthcare facilities may lack the resources to meet rural patients’ needs.
How Telehealth Can Help Provide Rural Healthcare Solutions
Telehealth can help address these challenges, offering a new and innovative way of thinking about healthcare. Providers can grow their patient base with connected health, as barriers to rural access become less obtrusive.
Harnessing Low Cost Medical Devices in Rural Areas
Medical devices can be expensive. Purchasing high-grade equipment can pose a massive financial obstacle to care for patients that need it most — stopping them from receiving important information about their health needed to more accurately provide treatment. In turn, providers fail to access patients in need due to financial resistance.
Despite the high cost of some solutions, not all devices carry a hefty price tag. Harnessing professionals trained in medical device selection — such as the team at Trapollo — providers can select lower cost devices to send to rural areas, catering programs directly to rural needs and budgets.
By sending inexpensive medical devices to specific demographics, patients lower expenses for travel and treatment, while providers gain additional flexibility and oversight in their treatment. Ultimately, this strategy can help providers treat patients who don’t have regular access to hospitals.
When distributed effectively, a low-cost medical device strategy can help reduce hospitalizations through connected health and provide healthcare to those in areas who aren’t able to effectively receive it — allowing providers to expand their reach and save space for high-risk patients in communities where resources are scarce.
Cost effective solutions are of particular note for rural healthcare, putting essential tools in the hands of people who need them and helping them gain a greater understanding of their current healthcare situation. Low cost medical devices also allow patients to access other telehealth treatments — such as remote patient monitoring and virtual visits.
How Trapollo Offers Access to Low Cost Devices
Trapollo’s medical device services offer several tiers of device programs to cater care for patients. These range from “BYOD” (bring your own device) approaches that allow patients to use their existing smart phones with connected or non-connected devices, to full-scale health kits which include tablets. Whatever is most efficient for patients and providers, our medical device programs vary in length to cater towards specific healthcare needs — allowing hospitals to only leverage exactly the services they need.
Providers can even leverage “ship and forget” kits — medical devices with no need to send back or track equipment. For rural patients, these kits eliminate the burden of mailing equipment back.
More Frequent Early Intervention Through Remote Patient Monitoring
As a result of the relative distance to most healthcare providers, it can be incredibly difficult for rural patients to detect symptoms early. Patients may ignore seemingly innocuous warning signs, only visiting providers once an issue has become far more dangerous. Earlier intervention can allow providers to address problems before patients will need long-term stays, saving valuable resources and space.
Through connected health technology, caregivers can utilize remote patient monitoring to better track warning signs. Affordable devices like glucometers, blood pressure monitors, and even connected scales can monitor rural patients and alert providers of red flags. These devices can help support a patient receiving necessary and immediate care in rural areas, and help prevent the need for costly treatments down the line.
Remote patient monitoring offers even greater utility to rural areas when used to monitor chronic diseases. Rural areas typically don’t offer immediate, in-person access to chronic disease specialists. Remote patient monitoring allows specialists to monitor patients in these hard-to-reach areas — expanding business and elevating care for rural patients of chronic diseases.
Additionally, early intervention may result in less of a need for in-person treatment in general — streamlining hospital management for providers. Early interventions can help prevent patients from developing ailments that require long-term, resource-heavy in-person visits.
Increased Treatment Understanding and Adherence
Telehealth technology can give patients in rural areas unprecedented access to healthcare resources. Connected health programs provide applications that can be utilized by patients — transferring useful information to patients such as treatment goals and medication reminders.
This information helps patients understand, and thus better adhere to treatment plans. When patients have a clear idea of what their treatment is building towards, they are far more likely to become active participants in it. Remote reminders are even more essential in rural areas, where patients are less likely to see their providers in person. Trapollo can also fit devices to meet the needs of specific rural populations. Medical devices range in complexity — we can cater programs to ensure less tech-savvy patients gain more intuitive, accessible devices, allowing them to take charge of their care.
Combining low cost devices and remote patient monitoring, connected healthcare can even further support treatment understanding and adherence. Digital pillboxes and wearable activity trackers can automatically send information to caregivers on patterns of patients, helping them understand whether or not they’re following treatment plans.
With this information, healthcare providers can have an honest understanding of how their patients comply with treatment plans — leveraging communication otherwise inaccessible to patients in rural communities. As such, providers can distribute higher quality and more accurate care.
Utilize Healthcare Technology and Low-Cost Devices to Bring Services to Rural Areas
With a greater understanding of how technology can serve the skills of caregivers and help provide better healthcare to patients, rural healthcare delivery becomes incredibly more accessible. Leveraging holistic connected healthcare and low-cost devices, rural patients can gain unprecedented healthcare access.
Trapollo helps providers utilize a wide array of connected healthcare strategies — including affordable device selection. Discover our diverse healthcare provider solutions and implement connected healthcare today.