Elise: improving healthcare

How would you go about improving access to healthcare in this country, especially to underserved communities?

As a Community Engagement Coordinator for a Medicaid Plan in the panhandle of Florida, my focus has been on finding ways to get care to rural areas. Loosening telemedicine restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a boon for getting care to areas that are traditionally very sparsely populated with low income. These areas lack many basic services such as nearby schools, grocery stores, or recreation. With a low density and highly scattered population, access to healthcare is limited because it is tough to establish a physical presence in an area where enough patients can access it to be monetarily feasible for a practitioner. Using telemedicine allows these rural residents to access care and screening easier, and even if they do not have an iPad or smartphone themselves, they probably know someone who does.

There is also a push to have a mobile care unit that provides sanitized iPads for scheduled appointments with doctors and can assist people with their appointments as well as scheduling follow-up care and transportation. Utilizing mobile clinics as well as telehealth would go far in improving access to care for not only rural areas, but areas that are underserved as well. With a shortage of medical professionals and an increase in care needs, we need to be both efficient and flexible with the resources that we have in order to provide care to as many people as possible.

we need to be both efficient and flexible..

Elise Matichak

Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, Class of 2024