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Telehealth is the answer to rural health care concerns

The future of healthcare in rural areas is a big question mark for the state.

Bill Gassen, President, and CEO of Sanford Health said he hopes to find answers for now and for generations to come.

“As those of us here in the Dakotas know well, we have the privilege of serving predominately rural communities and rural populations and with that we know there are very distinct and significant challenges to provide the best in care," Gassen said.

Gassen believes telemedicine is an essential step in serving rural areas. He says technology’s benefit was evident in the past few years.

“Many organizations across the country during COVID relied heavily upon telemedicine," Gassen said.

Doctor Geeta Nayyar Chief Medical Officer of Salesforce says the pandemic forced the health care industry to be creative.

“We are thinking differently, health care has always been asked to do more with less and we have seen that very clearly through the pandemic," Nayyar said.

The mortality rate was frightening said, Dr. Nayyar.

“We knew people were dying at home, we knew people were getting short of breath and not getting to the ER.”

Dr. Nayyar believes the future is bright as new technology is developed every day. She believes the next step could involve artificial intelligence or even social media.

“It is what engages people, it has driven political movements, social movements because people find it relatable and accessible, and largely the health care world has not embraced it, said Nayyar.

The goal of telemedicine is to bring high-quality and affordable healthcare to people regardless of their zip code.

Sanford also announced the groundbreaking of a new Virtual Care Center in Sioux Falls.