Telehealth can aid population health growth in rural areas
Telehealth has brought significant savings to rural hospitals, a new report from NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association concludes. The technology is also proving to be pivotal to the growth of population health initiatives aimed at providing care to chronically ill rural residents in need of specialty care.
The report, Anticipating Economic Returns of Rural Telehealth, notes that the national average estimates for cost-related savings annually per medical facility from telehealth include travel expense savings of $5,718, lost wages savings of $3,431 and hospital cost savings of $20,841.
The Arlington, Va.,-based organization, which represents more than 800 independent, community-based telecommunications companies, said in its report that annually at medical facilities, telehealth also boosts local revenue for lab work from $9,204 to $39,882 per type of procedure, and local pharmacy revenues also jump from $2,319 to $6,239 depending on the specific drug prescribed.
Not only are small practice rural physicians dependent on a network of local hospitals, community centers and other medical facilities to support their efforts to attend to patients, but they are also relying on high-speed reliable broadband networks for videoconferencing and the capture, storage and transmission of patient data.
“If small practice physicians want to participate in population health programs in rural communities, telehealth gives them the opportunity to improve the health outcomes of their patients while closing the health disparity gap among urban and rural populations,” said Rick Schadelbauer, manager of economic research and analysis at NTCA, and the report’s author.