Rural Health Centers aim to provide healthcare services to communities that may be medically underserved. They accept Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance, providing individuals with a variety of health care services. Access to healthcare services is critical to good health, yet rural residents face a variety of access barriers. Ideally, residents should be able to conveniently and confidently access services such as primary care, mental health services, emergency care, dental care, and public health services. However, majority of rural populations still have limited access to certain services for primary and specialty healthcare needs. Most communities that rural health centers serve are flooded with disparities, mainly including individuals impacted by economic status. Factors such as environmental conditions, education, limited transportation, nutrition, access to healthcare, and other health behaviors all impact the health of rural populations. Limited funding and shortage of healthcare physicians also play a huge role in the availability of certain healthcare services for these areas.
For rural residents to have sufficient access to healthcare services, necessary and appropriate services must be made available and obtainable in a timely manner to improve the overall quality of health within these regions. So how do we improve this? Rural healthcare centers and services have become a huge focus within the healthcare system in the United States. Researchers and educational institutions are trying to create innovative ideas and advanced technology to improve the overall access to care within these communities. Due to the physician shortages within rural communities, telemedicine is a huge component of increasing access to specialty care, mental health services, and therapies for patients of rural populations. As technology continues to advance, the United States healthcare system hopes to see an increase of access to care for rural communities and hopefully a decrease in health disparities in the future.
Year Manuscript Completed
Senior Project Advisor
Mr. George Barton
Bachelor of Integrated Studies Degree
Field of Study
Health Care Administration
Thesis - Murray State Access only
Edwards, Kelsey and Edwards, Kelsey P., "How to Improve Access and Quality Healthcare in Rural Areas: What Are Health Disparities?" (2022). Integrated Studies. 454.