More telehealth access can boost rural areas' economic success, survey suggests

Telehealth shows promise in creating economic development if broadband-related factors are controlled, according to a recent survey by broadband industry analyst Craig Settles.

Mr. Settles conducted the survey in partnership with the International Economic Development Council, polling 200economic development professionals in public and private sectors, many of whom serve rural jurisdictions. The survey is not nationally representative but has respondents from nearly every state.

Four things to know:

  1. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said COVID-19 has hindered healthcare access, allowing for more telehealth opportunities.

  2. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents said that telehealth can have a measurable impact on their local economy by reducing unnecessary ER visits, compared to 24 percent who said the same in a similar survey conducted two years ago.

  3. Thirty-two percent of respondents said that telehealth can keep mental health services local, and 29 percent said the technology would have a direct effect on keeping senior citizens living at home longer.

  4. Nearly 70 percent said local areas should have the right to make their own broadband decisions, including building and owning a public broadband network.

Mr. Settles said these results suggest that there is an untapped economic potential associated with increasing telehealth capacities. However, in order to increase telemedicine in these communities, stronger broadband would need to be established, he said.

More articles on telehealth: 
GoodRx offers Texans free telehealth throughout February
Intermountain converts 1,200 hospital TVs into telehealth platforms with new Amwell device
Des Moines University's new $4M telehealth center to create nearly 700 jobs 

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