You could easily describe the availability of quality healthcare across the U.S. and the world as "uneven." Several factors impact that availability.
You could easily describe the availability of quality healthcare across the U.S. and the world as "uneven." Several factors impact that availability. One of which is geography.
Rural patients have a barrier to receiving both general care and especially care from specialists - there just aren’t many providers to see locally. For instance, even in a wealthy, industrialized nation like the United States, access to healthcare in rural areas is limited. While 19.3% of Americans live in rural areas, only 10% of providers practice there. When it comes to the need for a specialist or sub-specialist, rural patients run into more roadblocks to care, facing long distances to see the only specialist in the region, and waiting months to do so.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Telemedicine and healthcare AI are giving access to those patients that might not otherwise have regular access to doctors and specialists. While the movement to telehealth started some time ago, recent technological developments and the pandemic have combined to accelerate the availability of providers regardless of location.
The pandemic altered how providers and patients interact and how healthcare professionals interact with one another. Initiatives to add telemedicine capabilities to facilities accelerated as the importance of contactless care options escalated.
However, telehealth provided patients with options well beyond seeing the PCP. Specialists and sub-specialists could consult with patients and generalists regardless of their location. Post-pandemic, these technologies increase collaboration and access and positively impact many, including rural communities.
Additionally, help is sorely needed for rural patients. Recent studies have shown that patients in rural communities face higher rates of preventable hospitalization and mortality than their urban counterparts, who have ready access to a wide range of providers. Specialists, in particular, are a challenge for rural care needs since there are few local to these patients, and doctors in these communities have limited connections for local referrals.
Telemedicine removes those barriers, while healthcare AI solutions streamline operations and even diagnosis in some cases, allowing specialists to tap into a much broader patient population. For those patients, the benefits of telemedicine are numerous and include:
To assist rural patients, however, primary and specialty providers need to expand their technology tools beyond just telemedicine applications and embrace assistive, collaborative technologies and enhance patient-provider workflows.
Telehealth is the foundation on which this expanded care is built. Still, different technologies can improve patient outcomes and experiences while adding efficiencies so that providers can take on increased patient loads.
AI in Healthcare and Patient Communication
Much has been written about the potential of AI in healthcare as an expert system and its potential in diagnosis and other areas. However, AI can also assist in improving the patient experience in a scalable way.
For instance, an AI-powered chatbot can interact with patients, helping with questions and directing them to the information they need - or escalating to a provider’s team for further assistance. Plus, Salesforce Einstein bots are compliant with HIPAA.
Collaboration on Patient Data
Health Cloud was purpose-built to help providers ensure that integrations are secure. Salesforce offers integrations with EHRs and HL7-compliant interfaces so that patient information can be securely shared between providers.
The data tools within Health Cloud can be a powerful means of understanding rural populations. Providers who note an increasing trend in a population of a particular condition or symptom can reach out to specialists for help or connect with a specialist or sub-specialist to add to their referral network to ensure the new concern is well-managed.
Self-service is another benefit of Health Cloud for rural patients and providers. Patients can use chatbots, as mentioned above, to get information or self-service portals to schedule appointments and verify care information. Alerts regarding upcoming appointments can be automated through Health Cloud, reducing the need for provider staff to monitor and call patients for follow-ups.
Rural patients are in dire need of expanded care options, something that telehealth is making possible. With the need to travel long distances to see a provider or specialist, these patients now can increase their health, improve their healthcare outcomes, and engage fully in their own health.
Salesforce Health Cloud facilitates the collaboration and workflow efficiencies required to make this a reality, combining communication, data management, analytics, and even AI capabilities for providers and facilities of all sizes. Adding Health Cloud to your practice can increase your ability to help more patients and improve their outcomes, whether in the office or across the country. Six Consulting can help you implement Salesforce's cloud-based healthcare application for your practice, giving you access to architects and engineers with extensive experience in healthcare implementation services. Contact us today to learn more about how Six Consulting can get you up and running with Health Cloud.
live in rural areas, only 10% of providers practice there.
could consult with patients and generalists regardless of their location.
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