Healthcare in rural America
Sanford Health, the largest rural healthcare system in the United States, was looking for a virtual care solution that would help them improve access to high-quality, affordable care for their patients.
Residents of rural America can be faced with more determinants than their urban dwelling counterparts, when it comes to accessibility to readily available, affordable healthcare. Some of these determinants can include fewer resources to access care, which can lead to these residents experiencing more instances of chronic disease and poorer health outcomes. Statistics show fewer than 10% of America’s physicians are practicing medicine in rural areas.
By improving access to care, Sanford Health is significantly impacting the overall health of the communities they serve.
Virtual care provided healthcare across a geographically dispersed, rural population
Health plans and providers, recognizing the opportunity that virtual care offers for improving access in underserved areas, have introduced virtual care solutions to bring primary care to people’s homes. Those living in rural communities can find it hard to get medical care, particularly when they are in discomfort due to their illness or injury, as they may need to journey up to 60 miles for treatment. Sanford wanted to extend their reach into rural locations and enable their clinicians to perform more data-driven, robust physical exams for those patients without them needing to travel to hospitals or clinics in urban centers. Expanding on their virtual care offerings would significantly impact members’ experiences of accessing medical care and enable them to receive high-quality treatment more easily.
Improve rural access to care
- Provide an easy, convenient, and high-quality healthcare experience for their patients and providers.
- Account for infrastructure limitations endemic to rural areas.
- Serve a vast geographical area regardless of zip code.
- Expand their clinicians’ diagnostic capabilities for virtual care patients so that they can receive specialized care without needing to travel long distances.
High-quality virtual care
Sanford Health partnered with TytoCare to integrate their virtual care offerings with the goal of improving access to healthcare care and are investing long-term in virtual care as a modality to complement their in-person services.
Sanford Health leverages a hub-and-spoke model, with TytoCare devices located in over 80 rural clinics and critical access hospitals in communities across the Sanford footprint in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. Virtual care is used across 70+ specialties including but not limited to behavioral health, family medicine, nephrology, sleep medicine, and reproductive endocrinology. Patients can connect remotely to clinicians, who can perform live remote physical exams, enabling the clinician to see live patient results and provide more accurate diagnoses on the spot. This technology enables Sanford Health to provide farther reaching access to both primary and specialist care close to home.
TytoCare brings specialists to rural, underserved areas
James Wallace, M.D., is a pediatric pulmonologist at Sanford Health, treating children with lung issues such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. Dr. Wallace is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but today he’s seeing a patient more than 500 miles, and 7.5 hours away in Dickinson, North Dakota.
A successful implementation
Through their partnership with TytoCare, Sanford has succeeded in improving access to quality care across the vast geographical region that they serve. Patients who typically had to travel for hours to receive care are now able to connect live with a clinician and carry out full exams without leaving their community. Access to specialty care has become easier, with patients able to get second opinions or consult with specialty doctors without traveling to tertiary centers. The partnership has empowered patients to seek medical care and connect with their doctors whenever necessary and has allowed providers to make informed diagnoses and treatment decisions.
Read more about virtual care with TytoCare
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