Rural Health and Transportation

Rural Health and Transportation

Access to health care for rural residents brings unique challenges. Rural residents face a longer distance to get to care, but are also seeing great changes in the ways health care is delivered int heir communities. Hospitals are closing at a greater rate in rural America, leading studies to find facets such as decreased ambulatory discharges, a good measure of how many people in the community are receiving regular care. With rural communities continuing to experience population decline, and changes to the health care industry such as practice consolidation, ensuring rural residents have access to care will continue to be a challenge. 

Studies have shown that there are fewer physicians in rural areas to treat health issues. A 2014 study found that there were 53.3 physicians per 100,000 residents in urban areas, but only 39.8 in rural ones. It is also harder for rural residents to access specialized medicine compared to their urban counterparts. A study form the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that only 46% of rural hospitals had obstetrics care in-house, leading to declines in maternal health. These pressing issues make it more difficult for rural residents to access routine care, which can lead to larger, more costly emergency services in the future. 

For further investigation . . .

Healthcare Access in Rural Communities - Rural Health Information Hub

This resource guide from the Rural Health Information Hub (RHI) contains a wealth of information on the issues faced by rural America in accessing health care services. The guide outlines numerous studies and programs that show the needs as well as potential solutions for health care access in rural communities. 

Getting from here to there: evaluating West Virginia’s rural nonemergency medical transportation program

With funding from the 21st Century Challenge Fund, the West Virginia Rural Health Access Program created Transportation for Health, a demonstration project for rural nonemergency medical transportation. The project was implemented in 3 sites around the state, building on existing transportation systems–specifically, a multicounty transit authority, a joint senior center/transit system, and a senior services center.

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Needs of Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A Rural-Urban Comparison in DE

Older adults in rural areas have unique transportation barriers to accessing medical care, which include a lack of mass transit options and considerable distances to health-related services. This study contrasts non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) service utilization patterns and associated costs for Medicaid middle-aged and older adults in rural versus urban areas.

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