Across the country, 62 million people are building their lives, homes and dreams in rural communities. While these towns may be difficult to locate on a map, the impact they have on the nationwide health of the country shouldn’t be underestimated. Rural health however, is often overshadowed with one-size-fits-all methodology.
As a committed platinum-level partner of the National Rural Health Association, LSI has been able see the unique needs of rural healthcare firsthand. We had the chance to speak with NRHA’s Partner Marketing and Communications Manager, Misty Blevins, and Executive Director, Larry Bedell about the impact of rural health.
WHY IS RURAL HEALTH IMPORTANT?
“To put it simply,” says Bedell, “62 million Americans.” Studies have shown that treating people in their own community costs less. Local treatment can make it more feasible for people to stay current in their care, ideally preventing more serious illness down the road.
“When healthcare facilities are available in close proximity to people’s home and work, they have a better chance of seeing a physician on a regular basis,” agrees Blevins. “The rural population tends to trust people in their community, so seeking local treatment makes sense.”
Bedell notes a common misconception that “rural health just doesn’t matter – to let it go. Residents can move.” Beyond simply a health perspective, rural healthcare has economic impact. “Hospitals, many times, are the largest employer in rural communities. When a hospital closes its doors, it has devastating consequences for the entire community,” says Blevins.
HOW ARE THE NEEDS OF RURAL HEALTH DIFFERENT?
Blevins also points out another common misconception. “People believe that a rural hospital is just a smaller hospital,” implying the same needs, just smaller scale. However, rural needs are much different that their urban counterparts.
“Rural hospitals don’t have the same number of patients, don’t have the same budget and patients don’t usually have the same medical coverage. Rural hospitals have a higher number of Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured patients and often have less specialists,” Blevins continues. “Do you treat pediatric, adult and geriatric patients the same? No.”
Rural hospitals are the center point of care in community, which means “rural hospitals must be prepared to handle most anything as there is not another across the street,” Bedell notes.
WHAT ARE RURAL HEALTH TECHNOLOGY NEEDS?
Whether it’s easily integrated, multi-parameter vital sign monitors or flexible financing options, LSI has worked with rural hospitals to provide scalable solutions to fit their patient-care process.
“LSI understands that one size doesn’t fit all, and one product doesn’t fit all either. LSI offers a personalized approach to the rural community, specializing in customized hospital-wide standardization that meets the needs for ER, ICU, SCU Telemetry, OR and post-op, as well as cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation outpatient departments.”
Our industry is only as strong as committed health advocates like Misty and Larry. LSI is grateful for all of your work!
Learn more about LSI’s patient monitoring and clinical documentation options for rural and community hospitals.