The Executive Innovation Show

Knowledge Knugget: Telehealth in Rural Areas

September 03, 2020 Carrie Chitsey
The Executive Innovation Show
Knowledge Knugget: Telehealth in Rural Areas
Show Notes

Read the blog here. 

Welcome to this week’s healthcare Knowledge Knugget! As a part of “The Executive Innovation Show” podcast, we’re bringing you the hot topics, including answering questions that we receive each week, game-changing ideas, best telehealth practices, and tips. During today’s topic, Carrie Chitsey talks about the advantages and disadvantages to telehealth in rural areas.

Benefits of Telehealth in Rural Areas

COVID has shed much light on providing telehealth to demographics that generally weren't being served via telehealth before. This includes the Medicaid and Medicare populations and the rural demographics, who didn't have access to specialty medicine or emergency medicine without traveling long distances, 30 or 40 miles for an appointment. Telehealth has decreased driving time for patients significantly living in rural areas. This has enabled more convenience for those patients' routine visits while providing better care access.

Barriers to Telehealth in Rural Areas

Regarding the complication side of telehealth in rural areas, there have been a lot of talks about bandwidth being an issue in these demographics. And indeed, that is a current issue and a concern on the telehealth side. Even though in rural demographics, the home internet is not as big of a wifi problem. 

  • Less high speed internet when looking at carrier networks and cell phone towers within rural residences. 
  • Both the clinician and patient need to have 1.5 to 2.0 megabytes to uphold both sides of the video call’s quality.
  • When it comes to camera quality, it is measured through high-definition or HD. HD starts at 720 pixels(p), and even then, that's still "semi-HD." 
  • Typically an excellent frame rate is 30. That's what a person will usually get on their television or DVR. 

We're paving a significant way to expand access with telehealth programs in rural communities. There have been so many successes, so much open up billable codes, really keeping patients safe, providing better access, and helping out caregivers taking their senior parents and having to take off work and drive them to all these appointments. 

The successes outweigh the complications. As a rural demographic provider, they must have patience because they will have patients who will drop off because of bandwidth, so providers might have to reconnect from time to time. But again, if this saves patients one to two hours from a five-minute, in-person face visit with their provider, it is worth implementing telehealth. So if you are a provider in that area, hang in there. The successes outweigh the complications, but it will take just a little bit more time. 

Filled with insightful information, “The Driving Forces of Telehealth Adoption During COVID” infographic is now ready for download. Visit our resource center to the healthcare podcasts where we talk about all the use cases for telehealth. Subscribe to the podcast and rate us! Have a Knowledge Knugget idea? Reach out and submit today. 

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