Telehealth Raises Visit Completion Rate by 20% for Rural Residents
Researchers concluded that the increased use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic boosted appointment completion among rural residents. This was especially true for difficult-to-reach patients, especially those who lived further away from the clinical location and those with more severe health issues, according to the study.
But researchers also pointed out various limitations to their study. These include using data from one entity, disregarding subjective barriers to care access, lack of information about different patient demographics, and omitting completion data beyond the check-in phase.
In addition, more information from other clinics is required to validate their conclusion, but overall, researchers believe telemedicine can be effectively used to provide care for rural patients.
Over the past year, several efforts have been made by federal officials and lawmakers to increase telehealth access for rural populations.
For example, in January 2021, federal officials dedicated $8 million to a project that increased broadband connectivity for rural telehealth in Alaska, Michigan, Texas, and West Virginia. The organizations receiving the grant, the National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center and the Telehealth-Focused Rural Health Research Center at the University of Arkansas, said they planned to create a three-year pilot program to enhance the virtual care resources provided to the rural areas in these states.
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