LANSING, Mich., March 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Connected Nation (CN), through its state program Connected Nation Michigan (CN Michigan), today released a groundbreaking study that closely examines the use and perceptions of telehealth in rural areas with a focus on Michigan counties. Researchers found, among other things, the highest ratios in the country of patients per doctor, a lower-than-average life expectancy, and a higher-than-average number of preventable hospital stays in rural states with restrictive telehealth policies.
"This study demonstrates why connecting rural America is critical," said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, CN. "Connected Nation has worked for nearly two decades to identify innovative solutions for connecting every community, and in that time, we've seen firsthand that having access to high-speed internet impacts everything from the economy to educating our children. Now we have real data that shows it can also impact healthcare—and even life expectancies—among families and individuals in our rural communities and small towns through telehealth applications and programs."
The more than six-month-long study was done in partnership with AARP and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. Find the full report at http://bit.ly/2ThWBPX.
"Many older adults in Michigan, especially those who live in rural areas, do not have access to high-speed internet, and that's a quality-of-life issue for them," said Paula D. Cunningham, State Director of AARP Michigan. "That means they can't take advantage of advances in telemedicine that at the very least could save them long trips to the doctor, and at the most could be lifesaving."
"Although our focus was primarily on the impact in rural Michigan, this data can help inform the development of telehealth services elsewhere and provide a starting point for additional studies in regions across the United States," said Eric Frederick, Executive Director, CN Michigan.
Key findings from the study:
Among 1,374 counties in 18 states, counties that are deemed "Care Underserved" (often rural or low-income) have an average ratio of 4,758 residents per primary care physician (PCP), the least favorable rate in the country.
In the five counties surveyed, telehealth usage represents a savings of nearly $4.7 million per year, just for simple 15-minute visits to general practitioners.
With studies showing that the average doctor's visit requires approximately two hours between travel, waiting rooms, and the visits themselves, this represents nearly $1 million($985,000) in lost productivity per year in these five counties, totaling a savings of $5.7 million per year in these five counties alone.
The top barrier to telehealth usage was a concern about the privacy of the information they share. For others, the potential cost, or the potential risk that some costs would not be covered by their insurance, gave them cause for concern.
There are hundreds of key data points included in the study, which can be found at http://bit.ly/2ThWBPX.