Rural hospitals eye benefits of telehealth post-pandemic

Outer Cape Health Services runs three clinics in one of the state’s most rural coastal areas, but for much of the past year, many of their patients have sought care from home. Some are measuring their blood sugar levels on a clinic-provided monitor; others are phoning in for behavioral medicine.

The organization took a financial hit and furloughed staff last spring as the number of in-person visits fell, said Pat Nadle, Outer Cape Health Services’ CEO. Still, Nadle said, remote care is going to stick around as patients come back in. The technology may even help doctors serve them better.

In rural Massachusetts communities from Nantucket to Berkshire County, local health care providers are playing a critical role in the state’s fight against COVID-19. Yet many of these facilities, which already were operating on thin profit margins and with small staffs, have faced outsized challenges as patients canceled elective procedures and doctors took on additional responsibilities.