This week’s articles focused on rural healthcare, and in some cases how medical institutions in urban environments are trying to advance and improve rural healthcare by infiltrating more education and partnerships. Each article seemed to, in one way or another, provide pros and cons of having urban institutions branching out to rural healthcare establishments. I personally think this concept is wonderful; I think programs such as Project ECHO, mentioned in Arora’s “Partnering Urban Academic Medical Centers and Rural Primary Care Clinicians to Provide Complex Chronic Disease Care”, are beneficial not only for today, but also for the future. What I like about Project ECHO in New Mexico is that it focuses on the partnership between primary care clinicians in rural, underserved communities and specialists at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center; because Project ECHO isn’t about specialists and clinicians from urban medical centers and research facilities coming into rural areas and providing healthcare, it will benefit future rural communities as well because of the education and collaboration available.
Similarly, I think the same method(s) should be applied to critical access hospitals (CAHs), as mentioned in Joynt’s article “Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes in Critical Access Rural Hospitals”. Because CAHs are so important for providing small, isolated rural communities, it is just as important for them to have strong connections and relationships with academic and medical centers in the urban population. I know cost is a big factor in keeping CAHs running and accessible, but I think these relationships would ensure the ability for better healthcare to be provided to underserved, rural areas.
Many times we assume that temporary infiltrating an underserved or impoverished rural community with medical experts and specialists is the best solution- but it’s definitely not. In my opinion, that is just a temporary fix. While it might be beneficial to have those experts and specialists for the time-being, it is more important to focus educating the public and the relationships and partnerships between urban medical specialists and primary care clinicians in rural communities.