Easy and affordable access to quality healthcare can be a challenge for Americans living in areas designated as rural and mostly rural. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, rural areas cover about 97 percent of the nation’s land area, but less than 20 percent of the population lives in these areas. That totals some 47 million people aged 18 and up.
Because of the smaller population spread out over a large area, physicians and clinics are often far apart and fewer in number. Residents may need to travel long distances to receive healthcare, which can be expensive and difficult for those who need to take time off from work to seek care. Additionally, the lack of public transportation means patients need to drive themselves or borrow a vehicle. Pharmacies are also fewer in numbers and that can impact the continuation of treatment if patients have to drive long distances to obtain medications.
The impact of healthcare worker shortage
Healthcare worker shortages in rural areas can also negatively impact healthcare, with clinics or physicians limiting office hours, or forcing the closure of clinics and hospitals. According to a study by the University of Minnesota in 2017, about half of the rural counties in the U.S. no longer have a hospital in which women can give birth. The study also found that the decline in obstetric services tend to occur in the most geographically isolated areas of the country, as well as in counties with greater percentages of women who are black, poor and ineligible for Medicaid.
Adults in rural areas had a median age of 51, making them older (and more likely to have more serious health issues) compared with adults in urban areas with a median age of 45. Roughly 12 percent no have private insurance, meaning that many medications and care are paid out of pocket. More than 13 percent or rural households have incomes below the poverty rate.
Because of all these factors, sample pharmaceuticals can often mean the difference between good and poor health, and for some patients with serious illnesses, such as diabetes, life or death.
The nightmare of recalls in rural areas
Physicians and clinics in rural areas often stock large quantities of samples simply because their patients might not be able to afford the medications they need. And if a patient can visit the clinic only once a month, that patient might be sent home with enough samples to last until next time. As a result, manual logging of the flow of a large inventory of samples in and out of a rural practice can be very laborious. Additionally, dealing with the expiration dates of all a clinic’s samples or suddenly drug recalls can be a nightmare.
TrakURep® help solve these problems for rural clinics and physicians. The easy-to-use app makes the documentation easy, while protecting patients from expired or recalled medications. Created by a former pharmaceutical representative, TrakURep® helps streamline the sample compliance process, saving practices time and money. Learn more about TrakURep® here.