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Connected Nation shares insights on rural telehealth in Michigan

Mount Pleasant, Mich. (May 9, 2024) - On April 26, Connected Nation (CN) shared the stage with researchers, health care providers, and other thought leaders in Michigan to discuss the impact of telehealth in rural portions of the state. More than 300 health care practitioners and rural planners met to address the need for quality health care in rural Michigan.

At the 27th annual Michigan Rural Health Conference, hosted by the Michigan Center for Rural Health,  the theme centered around turning ideas into actions. Just like throwing a pebble into a pond, presenters talked about how small changes can ripple out into big waves of change.

CN’s Director of Research Development Chris McGovern co-presented with Phil Lewis of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund on the potential impact of telehealth in providing high-quality health care service to rural parts of the state. They noted that to accomplish this goal, however, steps must be taken at the local level to address the unique challenges in each community.

“The concept of ‘rural’ is not a single place,” McGovern stressed. “The mining towns in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are not the same as the beet fields in the eastern parts of the state. Every rural community is unique, so their challenges are going to have to be addressed by unique solutions.”

Telehealth services vary across the state in the types of care they provide and their complexity. For some rural residents, concerns about the privacy of their health data prevents them from using telehealth services, while others report concerns about the cost or the quality of telehealth visits. For others, the lack of affordable high-speed internet service presents challenges.

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Pictured above: Chris McGovern, CN. R: Phil Lewis, Michigan Health Endowment Fund

“To see a doctor through videoconferencing, first, a patient has to be able to access the internet. Then, they have to know how to use the health care provider’s app, so it’s more than an access issue. People have to feel comfortable going online before sharing personal information with a doctor on the other side of a video screen.”

CN has created an award-winning series of videos that address the concerns many patients have shared about using telehealth services. You can also watch our presentation from the Michigan Rural Health Conference, along with those from other presenters, here.

To stay up-to-date about CN’s ongoing research into telehealth usage and barriers, be sure to visit our website or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or  X (Twitter).