Telehealth to Play Significant Role in Future of Rural Medicine

May 8, 2020 | Hometown health Steve Cassabaum, MSPT, DPT, President and Founder, 21st Century Rehab PC,

Before this past month I was not an expert, like most of us, on what to do when dealing with a pandemic. I do know about rural health, having worked in a rural hospital for the last 25 years.

Each of the seven rural, critical access hospitals that we serve differ somewhat in the challenges and opportunities they face. Some fare better than others depending on the local communities, business environment, competition, tax base and leadership available.

Many struggle to make ends meet. The struggles have multiplied with this pandemic.

Telehealth is one thing that is now being used to serve patients and survive this crazy time. I am now, almost, an expert on telehealth, which prior to this pandemic, felt we would rarely or ever use. Surprisingly, we have utilized it much more than anticipated. It not only helps us continue to serve our most vulnerable patients, but allows us to keep ‘the doors open’ a little better.

Telehealth may be a large part in determining whether some rural hospitals and clinics survive this crisis. Telehealth may also become a significant part of rural medicine in the future, and a part of what keeps these facilities open and continuing to provide the vital service to the rural populations of Iowa.