Why Rural Hospitals May Not Survive COVID-19

June 4, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified June 5, 2020

In an article by National Geographic, a pattern is playing out across the country at both rural and urban hospitals: fearful of the pandemic, non-coronavirus patients are staying home, despite suffering conditions ranging from minor to major. In response, many hospitals have started delivering primary care through telemedicine.

Virtual healthcare sounds great in theory, however, implementing these within the rural areas has been “patchwork.” Unreliable access to at-home technology, broadband internet connection, and poor cell service have been constant issues in some areas. Rather than bring in a long-anticipated telemedicine revolution in remote areas, COVID-19 has exposed its limitations, and highlighted what tools and regulations rural hospitals will need to survive.

Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association points out that the huge diversity within rural communities is why it’s exceedingly important for any plans around telehealth to be flexible—something the temporary regulations under the pandemic do, in part, account for. The hope is that they’ll be made permanent and financially sustainable, before it’s too late.

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