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As radiation therapy facilities proliferate, rural areas remain out of reach

par John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | November 02, 2020
Rad Oncology

"We can either create facilities closer to patients or we can help bring the patients to existing facilities," said Maroongroge. "We can improve incentives for starting and operating radiation therapy facilities in underserved areas by increasing reimbursement or improving regulatory flexibility for practices that serve vulnerable populations. We can help patients better access care from existing facilities by supporting telemedicine for consultations and follow-up visits and by allowing for transportation or lodging support for patients receiving treatment."

The authors plan to validate their findings with additional data sets to better understand populations at risk and identify potential levers to create change. They also will look at access for people who live close to facilities, as challenges in referrals and barriers such as reliance on public transport have been found to negatively affect a patient’s ability to receive or complete treatment, even within cities.

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"Studies such as this one highlight substantial variation in geographic access to care, but the question remains whether our existing healthcare system reflects what we as a society expect from it, and if not, how we might change it to better suit our needs," said Maroongroge.

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