Telehealth services are uniquely suited to rural and underserved communities. The universal benefits of improving access to care by eliminating travel time, limiting time off work, connecting with specialists and addressing a shortage of health care workers can transform health care delivery in a community. While various barriers exist that can prevent communities from accessing telehealth services – including identifying and scheduling interpreters when there are language barriers – the technology barrier is a critical one as it blocks telehealth options for patient care altogether.
By addressing technology-related barriers, you can begin to break through. The first step is to stay consistent with the family-centered care approach by partnering with families/caregivers and working together towards solutions.
Here are practical ideas to help pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, pediatric surgical specialists and non-physician clinicians who serve in rural and underserved communities overcome four common technology-related telehealth barriers.
- Access to devices such as computers and smartphones
- Availability of broadband internet and data networks serving wide geographical areas
- Reliability of Wi-Fi in households and clinics
- Understanding how to use technology such as web cameras, apps and email
This resource is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $6,000,000 with no percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the US Government.
American Academy of Pediatrics