Lakewood requests funding for telemedicine services
Congressman Collin Peterson told staff at Lakewood Health System in Staples recently that he will continue to support measures that improve telehealth services in the 7th District, as well as the rural broadband internet they depend on.
Peterson’s visit to LHS on June 2 followed the recent trip four Lakewood staff members made to meet with the congressman and his staff in Washington D.C., to discuss the continued growth of telemedicine services in rural areas and more specifically, at Lakewood; and to request funding for this expansion program.
According to a press release, rural healthcare serves over 72 million Americans each year; and in Minnesota, Lakewood provides care for four of the state’s poorest counties and underserved regions.
Maintaining access to healthcare in rural areas is critical for many reasons, though it does not come without its complications. Inadequate transportation, large geographic distances, high poverty levels, aging populations, lack of broadband technology and rural economic challenges prevent rural area residents from gaining access to the health services, primary care providers, specialists and other care options available to those in more urban areas.
In order to help meet the need for care in rural areas, Lakewood would like to expand its telemedicine program. This will allow Lakewood medical providers to expand communication with specialists in larger facilities; and allowing patients to seek the care they need closer to home. Lakewood is also focused on improving its tele-monitoring services used through its home care and assisted living services. These programs will not only increase access to medical providers and healthcare services close to home, it will also help to reduce healthcare costs, improve health outcomes and improve quality of care.
According to American Telemedicine Association, “Formally defined, telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.”