Rural Populations

Rural communities are noted to consist of vulnerable populations, such as elderly, less educated individuals, and low SES. A study conducted by Zahnd et. al (2009) focused on health literacy skills in rural populations. The researchers defined health literacy as an individual's ability to obtain and interpret health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Zahnd et. al (2009), connected an individual's health literacy skills with their self-perception of health, adherence to health screenings, and ability to manage an illness. In another study by Call et. al (2015), individuals in rural populations were found to have low health portal use ratings. Although, being a rural resident is positively associated with amenability to increase one’s usage of telemedicine (Call et. al, 2015).

The map below is a representation of medically underserved areas (MUA) across the United States. The yellow shading on the map represents MUA and the light blue represents medically underserved populations (MUP). A large majority of the southern hemisphere of the country accounts for these MUA's. A map like this gives an insight into which populations should be targeted for the implementation of Telehealth services.