Background: Uncertainties and challenges associated with COVID-19 have affected the efficient delivery of health care in Central Virginia. Integrating and redesigning health systems could boost the quality and efficiency of care delivery. Telemedicine has been suggested as a viable solution to increase virtual access to patient advocacy healthcare education and training programs and has the potential to help facilitate the delivery of health services to rural and remote areas. It is projected that access to quality telehealth services can minimize the need for in-person hospital visitation amid the pandemic. The innovation also facilitates remote assessment of patients and monitoring of patient illness and treatment. For the rural population at risk of COVID-19 or any easily transmissible infection, telemedicine can provide convenient access to routine care without provider-patient contact, thus limiting the spread of the virus.

Methods: A systematic literature review of peer-reviewed and grey literature was conducted. The authors used electronic databases including Embase, PubMed, CINAHIL and Web of Science to locate and access relevant articles based on their inclusion criteria. Studies were selected that investigated the implementation of telemedicine in the clinical and educational healthcare settings in rural or remote locations within the United States. Forty articles were identified for review. The identified articles were published between 2010 and 2021 that were used in the study.

Results: There was no significant literature on telemedicine utilization in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Additionally, there were limited studies on rural and remote settings that utilized telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence suggested that telemedicine could improve access to healthcare services and enable providers to monitor patients from a distance. Researchers identified six key factors associated with telemedicine's success and sustainability: education, training, vision, ownership, adaptability, economics, efficiency, and equipment.

Conclusions: Rural and remote communities experience healthcare disparities and poor patient outcomes due to limited access to quality care and inequalities in education, training, and resource allocation. A deficiency of technological skills, knowledge and or resistance to change may prevent a quality telehealth program from being able to serve patients adequately.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.