Telehealth for Rural Communities

Removing barriers to access and improving patient outcomes.

One in four rural Americans struggle to get the healthcare they need.

People who live in rural areas of the United States are more likely than urban residents to forgo care for the most serious diseases: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke.  Health issues that could have been treated early often go untreated until the condition has progressed to a serious level.

Why is this happening? 

Barriers to healthcare access

Barriers include distance and transportation, health insurance coverage, poor health literacy, social stigma and privacy issues, and workforce shortages. Primary care access including emergency and public health services are the most vital services needed in rural areas. They offer early disease detection, lower all-cause, cancer, and heart disease mortality rates, reduction in low birth weight, and improved health behaviors.

Shortage of Providers

Rural hospitals and health center providers are stretched thin and specialists, including mental health and substance abuse providers, are rare to come by. Most providers are too far away or difficult to get to and rural healthcare facilities that close services have a negative impact in rural communities. Yet an adequate workforce is necessary for maintaining access to healthcare in a community.

Lower Incomes

Rural populations have lower median household incomes, more children living in poverty, and fewer adults with postsecondary education.  About a quarter of rural adults have skipped health care at some point because they lacked either financial or physical access to care. Traveling to receive healthcare services presents an additional burden for individuals with low incomes. They often don't get paid for time off from work, have physical limitations, acute conditions, or no personal transportation.

Less Likely to Be Insured

Rural areas have more uninsured residents under the age of 65 without health insurance were more likely to forgo care than those who had health coverage and 24% of insured adults had not received the care they need. One report found that 43.4% of uninsured rural residents reported not having a usual source of care and those with insurance experienced average premiums higher than in urban areas.

High Incidents of Chronic Health Conditions

Rural Americans experience significant health disparities. They have a higher incidence of disease and disability, increased mortality rates, lower life expectancies, and higher rates of pain and suffering.

Weak Digital Infrastructure

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports that 31 percent of American rural households still lack broadband Internet. And many communities don't have the infrastructure in place to support connectivity. This limits virtual health opportunities in communities that tend to have people with a larger percentage of high-risk conditions.

Sources:
Rural Health Information Hub
Association of American Medical Colleges

COST SIMPLIFIED:
An Affordable Option

Full-scale, integrated telehealth technology is possible without a large capital expenditure.

Simply choose a clinical, transportable, or wall-mounted station. Three of our most popular connected devices are automatically included with the station of your choice along with our eNcounter® data-capturing software for a complete virtual care delivery solution. 

Delivery stations + Devices + Software starting at just $783 per month. 

CAS Lite
Mobile all-in-one cart

Transportable Exam Station
Transportable and mobile 

WallDoc®
Space-saving/wall-mounted

TotalExam®3
for capturing high-definition images

TotalVitals®
for continuous patient monitoring

TotalSteth™
stethoscope to transmit auscultation data

All stations are powered by our cutting-edge eNcounter® telehealth software which allows for completely customized workflows, multi-way video consults, cloud-based information storage, dynamic data integration, and more. We also provide you with our ClearSteth® software, an intuitive interface for clear and fast tele-auscultation. Combined with the TotalSteth™ stethoscope, it supports remote sharing of high-quality heart, lung, and body sounds.

Additional devices and configurations are available. 

Learn How Telehealth Can Help Expand Care and Lower Costs

Discover how the services you provide to rural patients can be enhanced and supported by telehealth.

Telehealth Use Cases for Rural Providers

Telehealth can help reduce barriers to care for people who live far away from specialists or who have transportation or mobility issues. It can also be a very easy solution for communication and counseling.  Providers can monitor their patient's chronic conditions, like diabetes, and heart or lung issues. The more monitoring a patient receives, the better their quality of life. They are more likely to stay out of the hospital and not die prematurely. And virtual care delivery can even offer timely care in an emergency, such as a stroke or vehicle accident.

In the Clinic or Hospital

Robust provider-to-provider capabilities for specialty consultations.

Using telehealth technologies to provide specialty services is more feasible for rural healthcare facilities than staffing those rural facilities with specialty and subspecialty providers. Primary care providers and specialists share knowledge and manage patient care together from their individual locations.

Offer your patients high-demand specialty services such as cardiology, obstetrics, psychiatry, dermatology, oncology, and many more. Rural patients are more likely to not get treatment because of transportation issues, inconvenient work hours, and financial limitations. Virtual care delivery also makes it possible to keep patients in their own community, work around their limitations, and improve their health outcomes.

For Chronic Disease Management

In-office chronic care interventions or care delivery and monitoring options for home care.

Telehealth is proven to reduce the cycles of urgent and acute care visits reducing hospital admissions, length of stay, emergency department visits, and most importantly improving outcomes. Using virtual care technologies also cuts the cost of chronic disease management by consistently confronting chronic conditions that represent the majority of healthcare costs.

There are technologies to easily facilitate home visits or support remote patient monitoring. This engages patients in their homes helping them manage their conditions but also preventing new issues. This also creates a continuity of care and the accumulation of patient data into a unified and simplified record for evidence-based decision making.

For Emergency Care

Expand access to emergent care and react quickly with teleparamedicine.

Even when an ambulance is fast on the scene in a farming or ranch community, patients may not get the help they need. Why? Because even if the nearest small hospital has the right staff expertise, the patient may not survive a three-hour ride to a more sophisticated medical center with the right resources.

Teleparamedicine helps rural patients be seen by top specialists while en route to the appropriate care location or even before they’re loaded onto a stretcher.  Virtual care technologies connect providers in real-time and support emergency medical technicians who may be faced with needing advanced and expert guidance to deliver timely and life-saving critical care.

Although telehealth has long been a promise for the future, the technology to realize results is available today.

We can help you with secure and interoperable video capabilities, delivery systems, diagnostic devices, and robust software to deliver virtual care in the most remote places.

You don't have to understand this on your own. We can answer all your questions about how to incorporate telehealth into your organization and the impact it can make. We can also help you navigate the challenges of funding and affordability.

Software

Enables virtual consults that include diagnostic and workflow tools for every form of virtual care.

Diagnostic Devices

Integrated devices that enable multiple modalities of care and capture data for clinical decision making. 

Healthcare Interoperability

Our dynamic integration means patient info is always accurate, accessible, and actionable. 

Telehealth Stations

Clinical and transportable options available manufactured with quality and precision.

Clinical Data Management

Data integration between telehealth and other systems is key to quality care delivery.

Expert Telehealth Advice

Our clinical and business experts will set you on the path to success. 

Bridging the Digital Divide

Providing extended connectivity in areas that lack cellular signals or network coverage, providers are enabled to establish triage centers and communicate back to hospitals, clinics, 911 dispatch, and any other team.  The portable network-in-a-box activates secure, reliable wireless Internet connectivity in minutes. A booster option, the Mobile Portable Amplifier, improves cell phone coverage. Paired with the GlobalMed Transportable Exam Station or TotalExam® Backpack Station, providers and patients can experience immediate, secured network coverage and complete exam capabilities. 

Portable Data Network

The Portable Data Network® (PDN) uses smart routers and high-gain cellular connectivity for a "network in a box" that can be quickly deployed by first responders, mobile command units, crisis response, and medical consultations delivered in the field. 

The PDN can also be used along with the Mobile Portable Amplifier, or MPA, a smart cellular booster that improves cellular phone and digital-data communications in fringe network coverage areas. 

Learn more about our remote solutions.

Mobile Exam Stations

The Transportable Exam Station is a rugged, impact, dust, and weather-resistant rolling case that can easily travel with you to any environment. Equipped with video conferencing capabilities, a variety of medical devices, and software on a HIPAA and HITRUST compliant platform, you can connect it anywhere a network connection is available.  The TotalExam® Backpack is a lightweight, USB-powered design configured for in-home care or remote provider consultations and includes a suite of clinical devices organized for easy-to-transport and use virtual care encounters. 

For non-emergency care scenarios where a video application is not needed, an exam can be completed and data captured into the eNcounter® virtual health software.  Once broadband access is available, the data can be uploaded to the EHR where it goes into the patient record even if a network isn't available at the point of care. 

Rural Health Policy, Reimbursement, and ROI

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Rural Health Plan

On September 4, 2020, the HHS issued a plan to improve rural health with a primary focus to expand the availability of telehealth services. Here's a brief overview of the 84-page plan.

  • Recruiting and training of EMS personnel in rural areas
  • A partnership between HHS, the FCC, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve broadband access.
  • Allows Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers to furnish Medicare telehealth services and be reimbursed for virtual care for similar and comparable services under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule that now has nine permanent telehealth codes.
  • Allows Indian Health Services and facilities run by Native American Nations to received compensation even if telehealth services are temporarily allowed to provide across state lines due to emergency regulations.
  • $12.4M to expand a pilot project to improve rural care for rural maternity and obstetrics patients with telehealth.

Get the full plan

Telehealth Reimbursement

On August 12, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the development of a new alternative payment model to address the operational and financial issues faced by rural heatlh systems. Targeting three main areas including funding stability, up to $75M in seed funding will be granted. The grant will offer flexible waivers, most notably those for cost-sharing in Medicare Part B services and conditions of participation to allow other healthcare facilities to receive reimbursement. Waivers and additional flexibilities include:

  • Critical Access Hospital (CAH) 96-hour certification rule
  • Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) 3-day inpatient stay requirement
  • In-person care management home visits
  • Telehealth expansion
  • Providing patient transportation
  • Designing programs to address patients’ social determinants of health
  • Patient rewards for chronic disease management

We recognize that telehealth reimbursement expansion efforts are underway and changing often. One of the best resources to stay up-to-date is through the Center for Connected Health Policy who has created two interactive maps where you can choose to view by state current laws and policies or pending legislation and regulations.  We have also created a Telehealth Reimbursement White Paper to make it simpler to digest and understand how you can get paid equitably for virtual care delivery.

Get the white paper

Virtual Health Technology ROI

Telehealth is often praised for bringing care to the underserved. But many people don't realize that virtual health can also lower the cost of that care in multiple ways.

Telehealth can connect patients to world-class specialists in real time without emergency transportation – or any wage loss or childcare costs on the patient’s part. Fewer hospital admissions and better chronic disease management can also drive down the overall cost of healthcare.

One percent of the U.S. population incurs 20 percent of health care costs – and more than 90 percent of them have chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Remote patient monitoring at home, with faster interventions for emerging issues, can help many of those patients avoid expensive ER visits and hospitalizations.

Organizations that understand its medical benefits and financial value are making smart investments in the future of cost-effective care.

GlobalMed and Telemedicine ROI

Learn from a sampling of our customers who have experienced significant cost savings and opened up revenue streams with virtual health technology investment.

Get our ROI Special Report

Don't Navigate the New Telehealth Landscape Alone.

Let our seasoned telehealth experts find the right solution for your unique needs.

Related Educational Topics

How Telemedicine Helps Critical Access Hospitals

Will Teleparamedicine Save Your Life?

12 Ways Telemedicine is Saving Small Hospitals