Podcast: Rural Healthcare's High-Tech Hope

Jack Murtha
JUNE 29, 2018


The data-driven, technological innovations gripping healthcare hold great promise for underserved rural markets, where care delivery and socioeconomic forces present even greater challenges.

This week on Data Book, we illustrate the problem through the stories of two 10-year-old cousins who suffered grave injuries in a single week. They went to an emergency department, part of Fallon Medical Complex, in Baker, Montana. But their in-person clinicians weren’t the only ones on the job. Far away, connected via video, urban clinicians with more regular experience in treating Level 1 trauma pediatric patients helped guide the critical treatment of these kids.

>> LISTEN: Overcoming the Cultural Resistance to Health Tech

Telemedicine is far from the only tech-centric innovation helping to improve rural healthcare. William Paiva, PhD, executive director of Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Systems Innovation, has access to a unique, sprawling clinical data set, and he and his team are using the information to build predictive algorithms to fight the complications of diabetes and more.

The center focuses on rural and Native American populations, who stand to gain a lot from the advances. Curiously, however, the center also stands to benefit from rural markets in a way that urban settings could never provide. If all goes as planned, Paiva hopes this arrangement will turn Oklahoma into the Silicon Valley of Health Data Analytics—and rural healthcare.

I got the Baker story, by the way, from a case study published by the Helmsley Charitable Trust, who I must thank. You can check it out here. (Also, an apology to the good folks at Fallon Medical Complex, which I accidentally called Fallon Medical Center a few times in this episode.)

Before you go, please don’t be surprised when a notification for the new Data Book episode doesn’t pop up on your phone the next two weeks. This episode is the nightcap of our first season, and we’re hitting pause for a couple of weeks to enjoy the summer, fill out this website, and make plans for an even better second season. We’ll see you on July 20.

In the meantime, scroll through the back catalog. And if you like Data Book, please take a moment to subscribe, rate, and review on iTunesGoogle PlaySpotify, or anywhere else. Extra points for telling a friend.

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