Geographic Access Barriers

Key Questions (by Marie Pantojan)

What Regions of America Are Most Affected by Geographic Access Barriers to Health Care?

The issues surrounding the geographically determined disparities in health care access and quality are not generally front page headlines on the national news. These issues are, however, affecting approximately 20% of the nation’s population – those who reside in non-metropolitan counties, collectively referred to as Rural America. The residents of these counties have a higher chance to report fair or poor health and suffer more often from chronic conditions than their urban counterparts. (Refer to the fact sheet by the AHRQ for a good idea of health care disparities and rural health.) In particular, rural and frontier counties in the Midwest experience a large disparity in access to care, where there is a sparse distribution of general hospitals available in a very large area of land.

How Is the Quality of Health Care in Rural America?

The hospitals that are located in Rural America are often at a disadvantage from urban hospitals. For example, information technology can be a potential tool for increasing the quality of health care, but studies have shown that rural hospitals have difficulty implementing IT systems. The Journal of Rural Health released an articlethat puts health care on a continuum, and proposes ways for improving the quality of and access to health care in Rural America.

What About Access to Psychological Care?

The Journal of Rural Community Psychology is dedicated to the dissemination of information related to the sociological, psychological and mental health issues in rural and small community settings. To get a good grasp of the general problem, the APA’s article “Beyond Urbancentrism” is a great issue brief. Little is still known, however, about the differences between depression management care in rural and urban areas – but this issue is explored in a report published by the Journal of Rural Health.

Medicare Patients

Links

Medically Underserved Areas

Rural Health

 

 

Inner Cities

Telemedicine

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