Transportation Challenges, Internet Access Limit Home Health Care in Rural Areas

By Joyce Famakinwa: For More Info, Go Here…

Despite the efforts of state and federal policymakers trying to encourage the use of home- and community-based services (HCBS) over the past several decades, patients in rural areas still face more challenges gaining access to those kinds of supports compared to their urban counterparts.

That’s according to a new study published this month in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care and Medicine.

Overall, the study suggests home- and community-based care is potentially cost-saving for state Medicaid agencies, but that there are a number of barriers that prevent rural patients from benefitting from these services.

Participants interviewed for the study highlighted a number of factors that contribute to the HCBS and home health care access disparities in rural areas. Those factors included caregiving workforce retention, limited access to the internet and limited availability of long-term supports and services providers, as well as limited cell and landline connectivity.

Poor business viability and a lack of transportation options were also cited as factors.

“The role of transportation challenges is particularly notable because of its indirect effects,” Siconolfi said. “Directly, it means that beneficiaries may not be able to access the resources and services that would allow them to stay in community settings. Indirectly, it also decreases the visibility of patients and their care needs, which can contribute to a perceived lack of demand.”

To help solve for transportation challenges, several home care providers have launched partnerships with ride-hailing giants Lyft and Uber. One of the first was 24 Hour Home Care, which now provides roughly 2,000 rides per month through its RideWith24 transportation program.

Additionally, advances such as telehealth might seem promising, but stakeholders reported in the study that internet access and technology literacy is still limited among rural populations.

Leave a Reply