Nearly 25% of the U.S. population, including 36% of veterans in the Dept. of Veterans Affairs system, live in rural areas. Also, rural areas have a higher percentage of seniors and persons in fair/poor health than urban areas, making access to care crucial. However, the distances between patient and provider in rural areas, and the potentially limited availability of transportation options, can create significant barriers to medical access in rural communities. For example
Another barrier to medical care is a shortage of medical personnel in rural areas. Only 10% of physicians in the U.S. practice in rural areas (to serve the 25% of Americans living in those areas), and the per capita number of specialists practicing in rural areas is less than one-third of those practicing in urban areas. This leaves much of healthcare in the hands of Rural Health Clinics, physician offices, and similar healthcare provider venues – the kinds of venues that offer point-of-care testing with CLIA waived tests.
In this environment, the need for an additional visit to a healthcare provider presents yet another obstacle that patients must overcome to get the care they need. Delaying diagnostic and treatment decisions to the next scheduled visit creates another opportunity for that patient to be lost-to-follow-up or not otherwise receive the care they need in a timely fashion. Thus, it’s important to make the most of each physician office or clinic visit. Offering expanded, safe & effective CLIA-waived testing options gets more diagnostic information into the hands of a healthcare providers when the patient is in the exam room, increasing the chances that a diagnosis can be made, and treatment can begin, at the first visit.
The Value Proposition of CLIA-Waived POCT in Rural Communities
Coalition for CLIA Waiver Reform
Improving Access to Point of Care Testing through Sound Science & Regulatory Reform