PHILADELPHIA — Telehealth represents a potentially significant improvement in bringing higher quality care to underserved communities while offering cost benefits and convenience to patients, so providers should investigate its role for their institutions, according to researchers here at the annual meeting of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
The health of patients in rural areas is of particular concern to the CDC, which previously reported that the all-cause mortality rate in 2014 in urban areas was 704.3 per 100,000 population, compared with 830.5 per 100,000 in rural areas.
“Too few rural areas have access to telehealth services,” Jean Arlotti, MSN, FNP-BC, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Arizona State University, and Sue Neder, MSN, RN, OCN, DNP student, wrote in their poster. “Telehealth expansion will provide considerable benefit to rural health organizations and the people they serve.”
Their comments are underscored by research done by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which indicated that although about 20% of the nation’s population lives in a rural area, only about 10% of the nation’s physicians are located in these communities.
Arlotti and Neder conducted a policy analysis utilizing Bardach’s Eightfold Path to build a case for implementing telemedicine, and wrote that primary care physicians and other health care providers should:
•develop outcome measurements such as reducing ED visits and travel time, as well as improving chronic disease management;
•confront the tradeoffs by researching topics such as estimated costs and reimbursements for specialty consultants and remote home monitoring; and
•gather evidence on the benefits of telemedicine, such as reducing the frequency and duration of hospital visits and saving money for patients, providers, and payers compared to traditional health care.
A presenter at this year’s ACP Internal Medicine annual meeting also suggested that though some health care providers may balk at telemedicine because of the initial cost, it saves money in the long term, as well as improves patient satisfaction and provides access to patient information pertinent to treatment that may not obtainable in the office. – by Janel Miller
Arlotti J. and Neder S. “Improving access to care in the rural areas through telehealth.” Presented at: American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference; Jun. 20-25, 2017; Philadelphia.
Disclosure: Healio Family Medicine was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.