Digital Divide in the Rural Healthcare Market in the United States: Health Equity and Inclusiveness

  •  Sung-Ho Kim    
  •  Ik-Whan G. Kwon    


The digital divide has been extensively discussed in context with consumer shopping behavior and population health based on race and ethnic groups (Kwon & Kim, 2021; Qian, 2022). However, it has been rarely explored in terms of health disparity between rural area and the rest of the population. The pandemic provides a good opportunity for us to review the extent of telehealth practice in rural areas which play an important role in many aspects of our life. Telehealth if and when properly utilized could address health inequity that exists between rural communities and urban settings. Healthcare inclusiveness will be a by-product from telehealth deployment in rural communities. The purpose of this article is to present the current status of telehealth in rural areas of the United States and recommend a long-term solution to make telehealth a sustainable program. A short case study supplements this study. Our study finds that telehealth in rural area brought many potential customers to healthcare market especially those who were unable to receive care under traditional settings due to transportation, cost and lack of information readily available to the community. This study also uncovered that telehealth literacy training in the rural areas is a major pathway to successful utilization of telehealth potential. Due to a lack of comprehensive literature in rural telehealth, this study used current status of rural population and healthcare infrastructure in the United States as a source of study methodology.

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