Health Technology for the Heartland

Amelia Lisi

image credit: Kentucky Hospital Association

Remote Care Management can be instrumental in closing the gap that exists in rural communities, where sufficient access to care is often difficult to obtain. When options such as in-home health care can reach an average of $4,000 a month, it is imperative to find alternatives that work for providers and patients alike.

Attempting to provide care in rural communities can often pose many challenges. For instance, the patient-to-primary care physician ratio in rural areas is only 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people, compared to 53.3 physicians per 100,000 in urban areas. Limited provider availability means waiting months for care. Patients with chronic conditions, who rely on regular care from their provider’s office, are often at the mercy of the provider’s schedule – having to miss work for the first available appointment and requiring flexibility should a provider be unavailable at the previously scheduled time. At the same time, patients are required to travel long distances to get care, sometimes resulting in a drive of two hours or more. In the case of specialists, these drives can be even longer.

For those successfully managing chronic conditions, visits are generally uneventful, and consist of checking and charting vitals - something that remote care management can easily provide. Through remote care management, health vitals such as blood pressure, weight, blood glucose, heart rate, and oxygen levels can be easily measured by patients in the convenience of their home using easy-to-use devices. These devices have become sophisticated enough to automatically transfer the measurements to patients' phones and other smart devices, which then enable sharing the data with the care provider. Many apps also keep a log of the vitals for patients and the providers to see trends over time, as well as the ability to set-up alert levels so that if any vital goes above a patient-specific threshold, the care provider is alerted and can take immediate action, if necessary.

Remote Care Management through Milliman HealthIO aims to revolutionize healthcare by giving power back to the patients and making the most of their time away from their provider. The 5,000 hours we spend away from the doctor can now be used as opportunities to measure and track vitals, medications, and wellness. For users in rural communities, the world no longer needs to stop in order to communicate with their provider –

  • Advocate teams made of family, friends, and care providers have access to a user’s vitals and alerts pertaining to those vitals.

  • Messaging is available to connect users and their support teams in the event that a measurement is out of range, or measurements are missed.

  • Documentation of measurements can be utilized during provider visits to visualize the user’s progress.

By integrating remote care management with the care provided in rural communities, the access to care increases, the emphasis of care shifts to wellness, and the gap that once existed closes as users take ownership over their care and personal health. Find out more about how HealthIO works.


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