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Geography and Transportation

Geographic location is a common barrier to accessing care in rural communities. Rural patients often travel long distances to be connected with appropriate care and support services. Care coordination programs, such as the Partnerships Model, connect social service organizations and health care providers to help connect patients with services in their community or in nearby locations. These types of programs can help address some of the geographic challenges experienced by rural residents.

Increasingly, models of patient care, such as the Health Information Technology Model, incorporate telehealth and use technology to deliver care remotely to help bridge some of the challenges created by geography. For example, HIT tools and technologies such as telehealth can be used to provide long-distance clinical care and remote patient monitoring.

Transportation access is another important consideration for supporting successful care coordination programs. Many rural residents lack reliable transportation and public transit options are often limited in rural areas, creating barriers for accessing necessary health care and other social services. Certain populations, such as the elderly and individuals with a disability, may have additional health care needs that require special considerations for care coordination and access to transportation options. Programs may want to consider different methods of coordinating transportation for rural patients. Ridesharing and new models of transit are slowly making their way to rural communities which may help to alleviate some of these challenges.

For more information about transportation access, see RHIhub's Rural Transportation Toolkit.