A Rural Physician's Guide to Mitigating Risks
In rural America, the accessibility of hospitals, quality healthcare, and specialty physicians is in short supply. This whitepaper describes how technology, workflow collaborations, and hospice agencies are making effective practice in rural locations possible.
One in five, or 60 million people, live in rural America. As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau,1 rural areas are sparsely populated, have low housing density, and are distant from urban centers.
The challenges of providing healthcare for this demographic are vast. Physicians are in short supply, the disease burden is high, and for many high-risk patients, the miles to access care are long.
In rural Maine, for example, patients looking to establish care with a primary care physician can expect to wait months to be seen, says Hans Duvefelt, MD, a family physician of nearly 40 years who is currently practicing in Bucksport (population 4,923) and Van Buren, Maine (population 2,058).
"Right now, every healthcare facility I know of in Maine is actively recruiting primary care physicians," he says. And specialty care is even harder to come by. "In northern Maine, there’s one neurologist. In Caribou, if you need a heart catheterization that isn't just a leisurely diagnostic one, but where you might need some stenting done, you get airlifted or put in an ambulance to drive 200 miles to Bangor."
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