Evidence-Based Advocacy Methods Used to Promote Healthcare Accessibility in Rural Communities – Health System Example

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"Evidence-Based Advocacy Methods Used to Promote Healthcare Accessibility in Rural Communities" is an engrossing example of a paper on the health system. It is evident that rural communities in the US report higher mortality rates, higher infant mortality rates, and shorter life expectancies than urban communities. Inaccessible healthcare is a cause of this status in rural communities. Hence, the provision of adequate and accessible health care to rural communities is a concern for healthcare providers and the government that should be addressed immediately (Brotherton, Rockey & Etzel, 2005). This paper discusses the strategies by which health care inaccessibility in rural communities can be addressed to increase life expectancy and reduce mortality rate, thus improving societal wellbeing in rural areas.

In addition, this paper discusses the evidence-based advocacy methods that healthcare stakeholders can use to promote healthcare accessibility in rural communities.   Solutions to Healthcare Inaccessibility in Rural Communities Solutions to the problem of healthcare inaccessibility in rural communities abound, including rural health education and training, rural health research, telehealth, and increasing the supply of healthcare providers to rural areas (Hurst et al. , 2008). On rural health education and training, it is important that educational systems should not produce rural health workers by accidents.

Instead, the education and training of rural healthcare workers should be designed. For instance, it makes little sense for medical schools to enroll students from urban areas and train them to be rural doctors, ignoring the knowledge and experiences of students from rural communities (Minore, Kulig & Mack, 2001). Moreover, many medical schools are situated in urban areas where the emphasis is on sub-specialization, academia, and research. On graduating, many healthcare graduates are more interested in sub-specialization and urban practices, completely shunning rural communities.

There is a need for more family healthcare training chances to be created and filled in medical schools then filled with trainees from rural areas who are passionate about caring for rural communities (De Maeseneer, De Prins & Gosset, 2003). It would be easier to impart rural healthcare skills to such passionate and experienced trainees. Importantly, rural-oriented family care should be granted equal focus and resources as urban-oriented care (De Maeseneer, De Prins & Gosset, 2003). Regarding rural research, public policy should give rural healthcare similar attention to that of urban-oriented care, which is not the case currently.

Insufficient research accounts for this lack of attention to rural healthcare challenges. Because of insufficient research, fundamental data or information about rural health and its challenges such as inaccessibility lack (Brotherton, Rockey & Etzel, 2005). Substantial healthcare researches are done only in urban settings. This kind of research cannot be applied effectively in rural settings. Evidence from rural healthcare experts indicates that conducting more rural health research would significantly contribute to healthcare accessibility by rural communities (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2015).

Rural-oriented research would clarify the unique health issues faced in rural areas, prompting the most appropriate course of action. Second, rural-centered research would help the enactment and implementation of rural-friendly health policies and legislations. On matters of telehealth, rural healthcare workers should embrace the use of information and communication technologies in their professions. Through telehealth, healthcare professionals would easily disseminate and share information on their successes and challenges with their colleagues in other rural areas. Second, through telehealth, providers can deliver services over long distances in shorter times.

Telehealth also supplements workers’ skills, knowledge, and experiences for increased care accessibility in rural areas. Telehealth also helps rural patients and providers by granting them greater access to medical specialists and quicker and more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Telehealth also reduces travel time and costs.   For improved inaccessibility, telehealth lowers the levels of professional isolation and increases opportunities for rural folks to access specialized care (Brotherton, Rockey & Etzel, 2005).   Methods of Advocacy There are myriad evidence and experiences among healthcare workers from which stakeholders can obtain the necessary skills and knowledge to advocate for and impact on public health policies.

Advocacy for increased healthcare accessibility in rural communities encompasses processes and activities by which the public and policymakers are informed, convinced, and endeared to engage in actions that increase access to healthcare. The most effective advocacy methods for improving health care access in rural communities are advocacies in the community arena, legislative, and through the educational system. Through the educational system, healthcare stakeholders and the public advocate for improved health accessibility by calling for the employment of more providers in primary and secondary schools in rural communities.

By employing these provides in educational institutions, learners and staffs in these institutions will not require traveling long distances to reach healthcare facilities (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2015). Although some rural schools have nurses, the provider: student ratio is so big that the care providers cannot attend to all patients’ needs. Thus, even in such institutions, some patients do not get the immediate and specialized care they need. A method of advocating in such situations is for healthcare officials to attend school board meetings and community gatherings to enlighten the education system’ s stakeholders on the negative impacts of inadequate healthcare staff on healthcare accessibility (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2015).

Through the board meetings and community gatherings, healthcare officials and practitioners can educate and advocate for changes in the problem of healthcare inaccessibility in rural areas. Advocacy can also be conducted in the legislative arena by healthcare stakeholders availing healthcare information to elected officials at the different levels of the legislative system.

By providing this information, these officials become better placed to influence the number of healthcare providers deployed to work and the number of healthcare facilities in rural areas. The health information must be accurate and the latest information on healthcare inaccessibility for it to be useful in policymaking processes. Moreover, the information should be factual, accurate, and be based on credible scientific research. Before presenting the information on healthcare accessibility, the data should be double-checked and formatted in a readable and understandable language. For the legislative system to embrace the advocacy and the information presented to them for further action, the healthcare advocates must be cordial and cooperative.

In legislative advocacy for healthcare accessibility, it is advisable that the advocates choose a legislator who is passionate about healthcare (Brotherton, Rockey & Etzel, 2005). Healthcare accessibility advocates can also influence health accessibility policies in the legislature by making proposals, obtaining sponsors and co-sponsors for their proposals. The contribution of nurses in this type of advocacy does not end at the identification of sponsors and co-sponsors because some legislatures may not be well-versed and experienced in healthcare issues.

Hence, health professionals must accompany and work with the legislators on the proposals and bills until they become laws and policies. Advocacy in the community arena entails strategies of persuading local leaders and the larger rural community to work towards the realization of the healthcare needs of patients and their families. At the community level, healthcare access advocacy can be done through health, education, economic, religious, educational, cultural, and social arenas (Hurst et al. , 2008).   Notably, the ever-increasing cost is a major reason for increased healthcare inaccessibility in rural communities. In economic advocacy, healthcare officials obtain information on the economic challenges in rural communities and their influences on the accessibility of healthcare in rural communities.

This information is then relayed to the relevant authorities to formulate healthcare policies that would increase the accessibility of care. To obtain this vital information, healthcare officials must engage in conversations with patients, families, friends and neighbors, and the larger community (Minore, Kulig & Mack, 2001). From this information, funding may be solicited through the portrayal of the negative impacts of economic inadequacy on healthcare accessibility.

    Conclusion The strategies by which healthcare inaccessibility can be addressed include advocacy by health professionals in the legislative system, educational systems, and the community arena. Equally important is the use of various solutions such as telehealth, rural-health research, and rural-focused training and education of health professionals.

References

De Maeseneer, J. M., De Prins, L., and Gosset, C. (2003) “Provider Continuity in Family Medicine: Does It Make a Difference for Total Health Care Costs?” Annals of Family Medicine, 1:144-8.

Brotherton SE, Rockey PH, Etzel SI. (2005). “US Graduate Medical Education, 2004-2005: Trends in Primary Care Specialties. JAMA, 294(9):1075.

Hurst, M., Gaines, M. E., Grob, R. N., Weil, L., and Davis, S. (2008). "Educating for Advocacy in Settings of Higher Learning", in Earp, Jo Anne L.; French, Elizabeth A.; Gilkey, Melissa B., Patient Advocacy for Health Care Quality: Strategies for Achieving Patient-Centered Care, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Minore, B. J., Kulig, N. S., and Mack, G. (2001). “Rural Health Research Training in Canada: Where Do We Stand?” Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research.

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2015). “Access to Health Services.” Retrieved on January 29, 2015, from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/Access-to-Health-Services

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