Proactive MD’s commitment to Care Beyond the Walls™ carries more than one meaning: care beyond the walls of the Health Center, but also beyond the “walls” of urbanism. 19.3% of Americans who live in rural areas often suffer from distant access to care and lack of healthcare guidance. Here are two ways that Proactive MD combats these healthcare disparities for the 30% of our patients in rural areas.

Distant Access

According to a 2014 study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 39.8 primary care physicians were available per 100,000 people in rural populations. That’s compared to 53.3 primary care doctors in urban populations. This shortage of providers—coupled with increased transportation challenges—makes physical access to healthcare difficult for many rural communities.

However, Proactive MD’s onsite and nearsite Health Centers guarantee close access to the workplace. For many of Proactive MD’s rural clients, we are the only healthcare provider within 30+ miles. In addition, telehealth offerings provide an excellent solution for connecting patients with care teams when otherwise impossible.

Not only does our telemedicine platform, Spruce Health, enable members and care teams to securely communicate via text, voice, and video. Our virtual clinic model also increases the onsite provider’s reach to remote locations. Within these models, an onsite Proactive MD nurse controls a standalone platform that includes secure video communication with a client’s Proactive MD provider. We equip the provider with a digital stethoscope, dermatological camera, and otoscope to provide comprehensive, Physician-led primary care to members in remote locations. These visits go beyond traditional urgent care triage; with established patients, the virtual clinic can provide chronic condition management, health coaching, behavioral health, and many more forms of broad-scope medicine without impeding the patient-provider relationship. These options ensure high-quality care regardless of the employees’ remote location.

Lack of Guidance

Other obstacles persist—even when the healthcare system connects rural patients with the care they need. These barriers include the need for health education and assistance through the often convoluted healthcare process. In other words, access to good care doesn’t mean much without proper guidance. The University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute suggests the solution can be found in community health workers who “engage professional or lay health workers [in order] to provide education, referral and follow-up, case management, home visiting, etc. for those at high risk for poor health outcomes.”

Proactive MD’s innovative Patient Advocate role is the perfect answer to this need. The Patient Advocate, a licensed social worker and clinically trained mental health professional, has the heart and expertise to engage, educate, and care for patients. The Patient Advocate will help patients navigate the complicated healthcare system. But they additionally provide behavioral health support, social resources, and trusted personal guidance. Our Patient Advocates seek to personally know both employees and their family members. Because of this relationship, our care team builds trust with patients that translates into engagement rates that exceed 80%. The Patient Advocate guarantees that not only will patients have excellent access to primary care, but they will also know how to make the most of it.

For most rural patients, the aforementioned healthcare disparities are “intensified as rural residents are less likely to have employer-provided health insurance coverage, and if they are poor, often are not covered by Medicaid.” However, Proactive MD provides the ultimate solution. Our model hinges on employer-based care, which removes the financial burden from employees. With Proactive MD’s commitment to accessible, navigable, and affordable healthcare, rural patients can finally receive the world-class healthcare they deserve.

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