Rural Health invades DC

Today the 23rd Annual Rural Health Policy Institute kicked off today in Washington, DC. We heard an overview from Secretary Sebelius and from HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield. (Who NRHA President, Lance Keilers, described as rural health’s BFF!)

The speaker from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, Dr. Nancy Nielsen, shared a connection from the President’s State of the Union speech… “Technology makes some jobs more efficient…and other jobs obsolete.” It directly referrenced manufacturing…but can easily apply to healthcare as well. It will be important for us all to prepare for the personnel needs and changes that HIT brings.

Another concern she raised was that medical expenses are the/a main cause of personal bankruptcy. We need to continue to provide care in a more cost-effective manner. It is my thought that telemedicine/telehealth plays a very important role in accomplishing this goal. She shared that, on average, the income for a family of four increased $23,000 over the past decade…and that all but $85 of that increase has gone to pay for healthcare. This was a startling statistic!

If Dr. Nielsen is an indication of the quality of speakers at this meeting, it will certainly be an interesting few days!

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