How to Reduce Health Disparities in Urban Communities Using Telehealth Technology

Telehealth technology represents a groundbreaking innovation in the field of medical science. Allowing for instant virtual access to providers, telehealth can provide particular utility to demographics neglected by typical healthcare models.

One such demographic is the urban population. Despite living in large cities, urban healthcare patients often face massive barriers to quality treatment and healthcare literacy. Thankfully, telehealth can help. 

Let’s dive into a few major health disparities in urban communities, and what telehealth can do to alleviate each.

Increased Accessibility to Care in Urban Communities

Telehealth’s primary benefit is that it can offer healthcare accessibility to demographics excluded from traditional care based on location. When searching for in-person healthcare, urban individuals have to find high-quality services at convenient locations and prices. Within congested cities, finding locations that check all of those boxes can prove difficult. 

With the rise of telehealth, more people can access better services. Moreover, since these services are available online and cloud-based, anyone can access them conveniently, for treatment and education alike. In cities rife with traffic and unreliable public transportation, this access serves as an incredible boon.

Here are a few specific ways telehealth boosts healthcare accessibility in urban areas.

Convenience in Screening and Remote Monitoring

Virtual visits offer telehealth patients instant access to provider care. The only barrier to entry for care is an understanding of modern technology. As soon as telehealth patients understand how to access video monitoring and online self-management tools, they can begin to manage telehealth appointments from the comfort of their homes. These online tools can save both the patient and the practitioner valuable time and resources, potentially bypassing the need for in-person appointments.

Utilizing remote patient monitoring in urban localities can even further improve the virtual care experience. Admitted patients can leverage sensors for heart rate monitoring, blood pressure, and more to ensure timely help in case of emergencies. These real-time updates are a critical aspect of remote care, especially for those facing chronic illnesses.

Flexible Access for Tight Schedules

Another major benefit of telehealth is the ease of access within busy schedules. By using telehealth platforms, urban citizens can consult medical experts whenever and wherever they need.

Patients of low income households may find it hard to travel or move over long distances, especially within cities. 

A teleconference and a quick interview over the phone or via webcam can help overcome many constraints. Since most urban areas offer public spaces with a decent internet connection, video conferencing is a viable solution for most urban citizens, allowing them to save on time and expenses while getting the care that they need.

Greater Affordability of Overall Healthcare

The price of a physical consultation with a health expert extends far beyond treatment. Telehealth can help urban patients save valuable income on several additional healthcare-related expenses.

Financial Issues of Appointments in Urban Areas

Any trip into the city can prove costly for urban patients. From organizing transportation to rescheduling work, taking time out of your day to attend to your health can be expensive. Virtual care performs a crucial role in allowing individuals to bypass some of these financial barriers to their healthcare.

Again, issues of transportation can present a massive barrier to healthcare in urban environments. Patients may find it hard to catch the train or bus service in time. Additionally, they may have to transfer routes to reach their destination. As a result, urban patients may miss appointments and have to go through the entire cycle of scheduling the appointment again. 

For patients working multiple jobs or operating under a tight budget, going through the process of rescheduling an appointment and taking time out of their day to attend it in person can prove too financially constraining. Combining lost income and payments for trains and buses, travel becomes quite costly.

Moreover, the cost of traveling is directly dependent on economic conditions and fuel prices. If gas prices rise, so does the cost of travel to appointments; even a slight increase can cause massive repercussions for urban patients.

Transportation represents just one financial constraint on patients in urban areas. Patients may also need to pay for meals out and even childcare for family at home. Altogether, these factors can make an urban patient’s healthcare budget skyrocket.

How Telehealth Reduces the Financial Burden of Healthcare

Telehealth can relieve these potential financial burdens. Within a telehealth system, additional healthcare-related expenses are drastically lower.

Appointments that once needed to be in person can become digital. Individuals can provide initial information and acquire relevant consultations over the phone or through video conferencing. As such, it’s easier for patients to provide critical information to medical professionals on a virtual platform.

Because these capabilities eliminate the need for several notable expenses, telehealth is a convenient option to save both time and money.

Greater Healthcare Literacy to Change Generations of Misconceptions About Healthcare

Another primary reason why there are inequalities of health in urban areas is a lack of healthcare literacy. A lack of literacy, especially in urban regions, can give rise to many misconceptions about healthcare, including that:

  • Healthcare is a financial burden
  • Routine checkups are a waste of time
  • Professionals prescribe medicines from particular pharma manufacturers to earn commission
  • Prescribed medicines have negative side effects, which may lead to severe health issues and more frequent visits to hospitals

Because of these issues, patients in urban communities may be less likely to seek out care. These misconceptions may even result in closures of hospitals or clinics, only further raising urban healthcare barriers to entry.

How Telehealth Helps Enhance Health Literacy in Urban Areas

As an individuals’ ability to access medical professionals rises, they also gain easier access to opportunities for improving healthcare literacy. In urban communities, providers can use telehealth to:

  • Promote understanding of the efficacy of healthcare among urban populations
  • Improve health literacy to eliminate common misconceptions about healthcare
  • Offer easier access to professionals specialized in specific healthcare fields

For instance, individuals were able to use professional guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic to deal with their common health issues even when they were unable to go outside for physical treatments. Because of ease of access, these online consultations reached far more urban individuals than they would have if the consultations were offered in a traditional healthcare setting.

Telehealth education can include video lectures, animations, and even live online demonstrations. All of these tools offer tremendous utility in engaging different types of learners about their healthcare literacy.

Leverage Trapollo’s Solutions to Address Urban Healthcare Disparities

Telehealth is a great tool for solving healthcare disparities in urban areas. For urban populations, modern telehealth practices help ensure better affordability, accessibility, and healthcare literacy. For providers, telehealth is incredibly accessible; the first and most important step is implementation.

Trapollo offers diverse telehealth and connected healthcare capabilities, including online patient engagement software, remote patient monitoring, and more. We design telehealth programs from the ground up, suitable for the healthcare needs of urban communities, rural communities, and everything in between. Contact Trapollo today and jumpstart your telehealth program.

Meredith leads strategy and execution of Trapollo's comprehensive marketing strategy including events, digital, content, campaigns and social media. She has a passion for bringing awareness to innovative, digital healthcare solutions through marketing programs enabling organizations to fully engage patients and improve patient experiences.

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