Urban & Rural

Access to healthcare varies along the urban/rural continuum and there are marked differences in healthcare delivery challenges and strategies.  Access to specialty behavioral healthcare tends to be much more limited in rural areas, accentuating the benefits of a collaborative care model. Telehealth, allows providers to deliver health-related services and information via telecommunications, and is a strategy frequently employed to fill the gap in rural areas.  In rural communities where everyone knows their neighbors, stigma can be a significant barrier to seeking specialty mental health services. These factors make the integrated approach to care particularly useful..

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Telehealth in Integration

Although “integrating primary and behavioral health has been recognized as having significant potential to prevent behavioral health issues from becoming severe,” it is often difficult to achieve in rural areas where behavioral health providers are scarce. Fortunately, telehealth (or telemedicine)—described as “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients' health status”—can address this problem.