Conquering Rural Medicine’s Clinic Circuit Challenge
The vision of the “country doctor,” black bag in hand, traveling from house to house treating generations of patients was replaced years ago by a network of rural clinics in small towns; many staffed by a few dedicated medical technicians and augmented by traveling doctors and nurses. The face of the traveling medical profession is changing. Many retired practitioners combine travel time and their skills crisscrossing the country to assist in clinics, while medical schools concentrate on getting more rural medical staff by accepting small-town candidates into their programs and marketing the appeal of the country lifestyle post-graduation. The benefits of rural medicine, such as the slower lifestyle, intimate knowledge of patient needs, and the forging of community bonds and leadership roles are often outweighed by the challenges.
obp’s Solutions to Seven Challenges of Rural Medicine
With more rural medical facilities closing and fewer new ones opening, patients living in “hospital deserts” and staff traveling to these areas must travel greater distances to access care. About 16% of Americans live at least 30 miles from the nearest hospital, and almost 700 rural hospitals in the U.S. face closure, mainly due to financial issues. Rural medical staff equipped with obp’s self-illuminating scopes, seals, and exam kits can set up, assess, and function quickly under critical circumstances, without concern for supplies that may not be available on site.
Transportation expense to larger facilities
Most rural facilities in the U.S. are within an hour of a major medical center if the transportation methods used include helicopter or ambulance. Transporting to a different facility for care costs the patient and their insurance company time and money, and the transportation costs are often not paid by insurance, leaving this bill to the patient. Having obp’s tools available in a rural clinic setting leaves the ambulance and air flight personnel available for more serious patients.
Supply chain challenges
The advent of Internet ordering makes requesting supplies easy; getting them delivered to rural locations is often compromised by poor weather or road conditions, lack of staff available to receive the supplies, and loss or theft of deliveries due to lack of secure storage or the clandestine sale or trade of the supplies for cash or drugs. obp’s security-sealed, single-use packaging provides an instant visual as to the product’s status if tampering occurs. Our lightweight devices easily pack in suitcases or small boxes or bags for transport in any vehicle, eliminating the need for shipping if necessary.
The National Rural Health Association estimates that only 10% of physicians choose to work in rural areas, while 25% of Americans choose to live in rural locations. That puts about 60 million Americans at risk for unmet medical needs every day. obp’s single-use medical devices fit easily in the smallest clinic storage spaces, guaranteeing enough equipment for every patient in need.
The lack of full training for available staff
Incomplete staff training often compels many rural practitioners to call on more of their medical skills than they would need or use in an urban setting. These additional duties call for readily available additional equipment and service, and obp’s service does not stop with the delivery; we’re available online and by phone to answer questions and provide answers when you need us.
Advanced stages of illness due to decreased access
Medical staff face a greater likelihood of treating more advanced health issues in rural areas, exacerbated by several factors:
- Rural dwellers travel greater distances for medical care due to the distance between their residence and the nearest clinic, resulting in fewer doctor visits and less preventive care.
- Tobacco use starts earlier among rural youth, with 26% of rural teens over age 12 using tobacco, versus 19% of same-age group urban youth. Smokeless tobacco use is another significant rural health risk, with usage rates of almost seven percent in rural areas versus about two percent in metro locations.
- The number of medical specialists available is drastically lower in rural areas: the average is 30 specialists per 100,000 rural residents, compared to 263 specialists per 100,000 urban residents.
- Rural residents have less access to healthy food and a greater need for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) leading to greater food insecurity and the dependence on available, unhealthy food choices, which can increase the incidence of heart disease and diabetes.
- The poverty level in rural America adds to increased levels of illness: nearly half of all Medicare-eligible rural residents do not have a supplemental drug coverage program because it is not affordable. A lack of understanding and access to free or low-cost drug programs contributes to higher illness rates, slower healing, and the need for repeat treatments.
- Even the lack of Internet access in rural areas is a contributing factor to poor health. More than half of rural Americans lack access to the minimum bandwidth required for basic Internet use, restricting access to health care information, and limiting their ability to make medical appointments and follow up with distant staff after treatment.
obp’s efficient ordering system and nationwide distribution system provides the tools needed to treat higher numbers and difficult care issues regardless of location. Our devices give rural medical staff the specialist’s touch and provide the patients with assurance that they are receiving quality care at a cost-effective level.
Budget factors into all levels of health care, whether rural or metropolitan. obp’s single-use devices save money by eliminating the cleaning and sterilizing expenditures necessary with multi-use equipment. Our products’ immediate disposal after use eliminates the need for restocking and storing cleaned equipment, and the removal of used devices eliminates the cost of treating infections in patients and staff due to cross-contamination.
obp’s products, simple ordering system, and prompt delivery anywhere ensure your ability to treat patients in any setting. Our devices and the batteries that power the light units are non-toxic and contain no hazardous materials, meeting all U.S. and European Union standards. Every exam space becomes a well-lit, technically advanced treatment room with the addition of our products, and every team member has the confidence in providing the best possible care to the under-served population needing their care the most. Contact us to learn our company’s story, obtain a free sample, and get more information.