PIERRE, S.D. (DRG News) – Among the changes in medical care evolving out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the increased acceptance and use of telehealth options.
While rural areas of America could greatly benefit from the expansion of telehealth, the tools– such as broadband internet access– needed to fully use the service often aren’t available.
Helmsley Charitable Trust Trustee Walter Panzirer (pan-zr) of Pierre says they’re working with researchers at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., asking leaders at the local, state and federal levels to address this problem.
He says most hospitals and schools in South Dakota have high speed internet access, but there are still a lot of people who don’t have it at home.
Panzirer believes use of telehealth– especially in rural areas– is here to stay.
Panzirer says telehealth will also help alleviate the shortage of primary care clinicians and specialists in rural areas.
Panzirer says he and others at the Helmsley Charitable Trust are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on rural healthcare systems and their staff. He says they’ve been working with Avera on their tele-health system.
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Rural Health Task Force estimates 57 million people-– nearly one in five Americans–- live in rural areas and face challenges accessing appropriate healthcare.