Systemic inequalities in rural healthcare


Differences in access to quality healthcare between rural and urban residents and resulting health outcomes is the subject of a conversation between Grant Thornton’s Chief Economist Diane Swonk and Dr. Katherine Baicker, dean of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and a member of the Congressional Budget Office's Panel of Health Advisors.

“There are conflicting goals and realities that need to be taken into account,” said Baicker. “You can’t sustain the volume you need to deliver high-quality care. There’s a very well documented relationship between the volume of care and the quality of the outcome.” She pointed to a takeaway of the COVID-19 experience — the ability and value in expanding care via telemedicine and opening up the rural healthcare workforce to include professionals such as physician assistants and skilled nurses. Baicker and Swonk agreed on the reality of accepting rather than opposing hospital closures.

Swonk spoke of the part that business can play in improving access to care such as when the organization has a geographic footprint crossing state borders: “Employers that self-ensure may be able to start pushing state legislators to have a more distant footprint to use these people [healthcare professionals] to their fullest.”

Listen to the conversation for more about what could be done to better serve rural residents’ healthcare needs.

For more about how businesses can help in the effort to move toward more effective and inclusive healthcare, visit Diversity and inclusion are just good business. The podcast series explores how COVID has magnified systemic inequalities in the U.S. healthcare system. Listen in on conversations between Diane Swonk and her guests as they discuss the issues and how business can be involved — and profit.




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