“Drones dropping defibrillators from the sky, wearable watches that improve CPR, and telehealth services bringing medical expertise to any location in the world are just a few innovations seeking to improve medical outcomes in hard-to-reach areas.

The COVID-19 pandemic had many negatives that irrevocably changed society; however, the crisis highlighted gaps in the healthcare industry now being addressed. One of these notable gaps was the lack of accessibility to healthcare services in rural areas. Lack of transportation combined with long proximity away from medical centers are some of the major hurdles residents in small towns must overcome to receive medical treatment.

Technologies such as telehealth quickly adopted in the crisis situation of lockdowns have become healthcare models that are here to stay.

Another development is the ability for rural community hospitals to partner with larger hospitals for services such as e-ICU. For example, the smaller hospital could pay a larger hospital to help cover their ICU night shift and when a patient arrives the local nurses administer tests and aid while a doctor at a larger hospital provides expertise and diagnosis virtually through a screen. The e-ICU allows patients’ records and tests to be stored and then accessed remotely by doctors in other areas.”

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By Sloane M. Perron