Rheumatologist are few and far between. The supply is low but the demand is high.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis account for about 1 percent of our population and are in constant need to be evaluated by their rheumatologists. Well, what about those living in rural communities who need to drive 2 to 3 hours to see theirs?
That’s a 4 to 6 hour round trip. Add an hour for the appointment. Add an hour for food and restroom breaks. Add the cost of gas. Add the time away from work.
Now, multiple that by every 3 month visits and imagine the emotional and financial expense.
What if you were 75 or 80 years old and have transportation limitations?
Telemedicine provides medical care for these patients!
How does that work? Rural hospitals are contracted with telemedicine health providers, like FreeState Healthcare that have specialists like rheumatology.
How do patients find out if these services are available? Primary care providers (PCP) are notified of these services and they can make referrals.
If you are a patient in need of a rheumatologist closer to home, ask your PCP about telemedicine rheumatology.
One may be closer than you realize!