The United States Department of Health and Human Services has approved $32 million in funding to help provide rural Americans with access to quality healthcare - using video conferencing and telehealth technology.
"These funds reflect the priorities spelled out by President Obama in providing the best healthcare possible to rural Americans," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "The ultimate goal is to build healthier rural populations and communities."
She added that the funds will be used "to recruit and retain rural healthcare professionals and modernize the healthcare infrastructure in rural areas."
Of the allotted funding, nearly $23 million will go to the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program, an initiative designed to support enhancement in healthcare quality in communities served by Critical Access Hospitals. The program also makes an effort to improve the hospitals' financial and operating performances, as well as promote the development of collaborative regional and local delivery systems.
An additional $3 million will go to the Rural Health Workforce Development Program, which supports the development of rural health networks. These networks are meant to improve the recruitment and retention of emerging healthcare professionals in rural communities, which are sorely in need of physicians.
The governing bodies of many other nations, including Canada and Australia, have also provided funding to encourage healthcare development in rural areas.