Operating a rural health clinic comes with a whole host of challenges, particularly for patients with ongoing cardiac conditions such as high blood pressure or congestive heart failure. When these patients live 45 minutes or an hour from your care center, and your care center is really their only resource for care, it's tough to give them all of the support they need. Here are a few simple ways your rural clinic can improve care for its cardiac patients:
Send home POC equipment
Point-of-care equipment, like blood pressure cuffs and heart rate monitors, can be really helpful for patients who need to monitor their heart-related vitals at home. You can certainly tell patients to go out and buy themselves a blood pressure cuff or other device, but if the nearest store to purchase one is another hour away, they're unlikely to actually go make the purchase. Improve care for these patients by sending them home with the equipment they need. You may even get a medical instrument company to donate a few blood pressure cuffs and heart rate monitors that you can give away to patients with limited income who can't afford to buy their own. For more information about point-of-care cardiac equipment, you can contact companies like Response Biomedical Corporation.
Host preventative care sessions
There is so much preventative care involved in managing cardiac conditions. While there is a lot of information about diet and exercise online, patients are not always good at distinguishing between good advice and bad advice. To ensure your patients are getting the best advice for preventative care, consider hosting sessions once a week or once a month. Have a registered dietitian and cardiac care doctor come talk to patients and answer questions. Whenever you see a cardiac patient in the clinic, give them information about the sessions so they can attend.
Be flexible in scheduling
Understand that driving or getting a ride to your clinic is probably a major barrier to care for many of your patients. Do what you can to make scheduling easier. Consider staying open late one day a week for those who cannot take off time from work to make appointments during the day. Have Saturday hours once a month. If a patient needs to reschedule, do not charge them a rescheduling fee. If you make it easier for patients to make and keep appointments, you will see more of them.
Providing care to cardiac patients in a rural setting is challenging, but you can rise to that challenge!