The Link Between Patient Experience And Community Perception In Rural Healthcare

  • Healthcare Management
  • medical management - Rural Hospitals
  • September 26, 2022

Addressing physician shortages, health literacy, and social stigma can help rural healthcare providers improve patient experiences.

Caring For Rural Communities

From a lack of physician coverage and patient access to negative profit margins, rural hospitals face diverse hurdles to positive perceptions throughout the community. While national rates of telehealth continue to rise, adoption and access in rural areas remain limited. Mortality rates between rural and urban communities have steadily increased over the past 20 years, reaching 18% in recent years. Healthcare providers in remote communities can build trust by addressing physician shortages, health literacy, and social stigma.

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The doctor is out

Securing a strong care team is paramount in boosting community perception in remote areas. Over 60% of physician shortages occur in rural areas, leading to an inadequate number of doctors. While medical care doesn’t guarantee lower mortality rates, unobstructed access helps cultivate trust in medical professionals within rural communities. Rural hospitals often experience undesirable community perceptions within communities lacking insurance coverage. Residents in remote communities lack health insurance at a notably higher rate than in urban counties. Limited access to free or low-cost clinics further minimize sources of care for uninsured rural residents. Flexible payment options create access to medical care, building trust and perception across rural areas.

What people know

Patients with low levels of health literacy are at a higher risk of going without medical care. The individual ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions determines a patient’s overall level of care. Without health literacy, patients can lack the information to make informed decisions. Flyers, pamphlets, and other educational materials can help bridge the gap in understanding throughout the community.

Community involvement

Doctors in underserved areas are not only healthcare professionals but friends and neighbors. Some rural residents are slow to seek medical care due to the lack of privacy found within remote communities. Providing resources for stigmatized health concerns helps educate and build trust within the community. Accessible care options for prenatal care, sexual and mental health, and substance abuse boost perception in rural areas.

Community is everything

Rural healthcare faces unique barriers to providing residents of remote communities with quality care. Boosting community perception while empowering the individual to make informed health decisions will help perception dramatically. By actively combating physician shortages, promoting healthcare literacy, and empowering patient education, rural hospitals can build trust and boost perception throughout the community.

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