HEALTHCARE ACCESS TO REMOTE AREAS IN AMERICA:
The rural population in America is estimated to be 15-20% of the whole population. They face healthcare disparities that leads to worse healthcare as compared to urban and suburban regions. This inequities in healthcare is due to economic, social, racial, ethnic, geographic and health workforce factors (Kelleher & Gardner, 2017).
Increase in population and disparity in distance has been proven to be problematic in accessing medical and emergency healthcare services in first world countries such as Canada, United States of America and Australia. Inequities in healthcare accessibility and underutilization of emergency hospital services are a result of geographical distance among rural and remote areas. Meanwhile, there are pressures to downgrade hospital infrastructure, centralize more specialized medical functions to ensure that there is an appropriate level of procedures and quality of care and attempt moving hospitals services to rural areas. Small hospitals in rural and remote regions have struggled to sustain their financial status which has further become a major problem in terms of both capital expenditure and expenses; at the same, maintaining and attracting highly skilled healthcare professionals in remote locations is another challenge of its own. Hospital closure is often considered as a political charge that is restricted by the local population. This implies that primary healthcare is of great significance either by preventing unnecessary hospital admissions or providing the necessary emergency care, which can also be assisted by telemedicine (Rechel et al., 2016).
Kelleher, K. J., & Gardner, W. (2017, April 6). Out of sight, out of mind - behavioral and developmental care for rural children. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 376, pp. 1301–1303. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMp1700713
Rechel, B., Džakula, A., Duran, A., Fattore, G., Edwards, N., Grignon, M., … Smith, T. A. (2016). Hospitals in rural or remote areas: An exploratory review of policies in 8 high-income countries. Health Policy, 120(7), 758–769. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthpol.2016.05.011