Peace, Tranquility, and Access to Care

By Adele Stewart, AxS Health’s VP of Client Development

I grew up in a mid-size town in South Carolina, where you didn’t have to drive far to be surrounded by rolling mountain hills or farm land. When heading out on a long drive, we always joked as a family about playing ‘cow poker.’ Better than ‘I Spy,’ cow poker was a car game where you called dibs on a side of the car and then proceeded to count the cows you passed on that side. Pass a cemetery? Lose all your cows. Pass a chimney with no home attached to it? Double your cows. Needless to say, our family car rides were a blast and we never asked our parents if we were “there yet” or not… I’m sure many of you can relate!

Being close to rural areas made me appreciate the less populated places in the world. I love going to the mountains to hike, fishing in my grandfather’s small farm pond, or kayaking in the backwater along the Georgia coastline. Constants of being in these areas off the beaten path are peace, tranquility, and almost always a lack of strong cell phone signal. Most of the time, I love to truly disconnect – it is a treasure in a busy, city-bound life. However, working for a digital health company, I see these pockets with limited service often as areas of concern rather than pure recreation.

“Where someone lives, works, and plays has an enormous impact on their well-being.” (1)

I come from a telecommunications background, where it is common knowledge that many Americans in rural areas and on Tribal lands still lack access to advanced telecommunications capabilities. (2) Knowing that the folks who live in the quieter parts of our nation don’t enjoy the same broadband access that their urban counterparts have guides our progress at AxS Health. It drives me to ensure that the solutions we are building cater to all patients today, regardless of their location. Our asynchronous telemedicine platform, which doesn’t require near the connection that video based visits do, offers the potential for the most broad-reaching improvement in digital patient access to care.  The advantages are clear for providers looking to offer convenience and improved availability to their patients. These are even more notable for providers whose patients may normally be driving to their offices from rural areas.

This past week, I was able to attend the Esri Health and Human Services GIS Conference in Redlands, CA. There, I met people of incredibly diverse professional backgrounds working to improve the lives of patients. Meaningful improvements to lives across the globe were demonstrated in workshops and large seminars. I saw how one professional’s team used GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, to help address a SARS outbreak. I watched a demonstration of how a health plan leverages Esri-powered tools to map out the expansion of its provider network and hospitals to reach underserved areas. Another group presented how story mapping helped visualize the opioid epidemic in their community and brought new stakeholders to the table.

It was a powerful conference; being surrounded by people who are passionate about improving the health of people near and far was one of the most motivating experiences of my career thus far.

This month, we are expanding to two new states and beginning to address new specialties with our platform.  It is an exciting time, and one that makes me think about how many new patients we will be able to help access healthcare. As AxS Health expands into new communities and builds new solutions, trust that we will continue to be inspired by others in healthcare, and will always put patients at the top of our priority list.

(1) Esri, Health and Human Services GIS Conference in Redlands, CA

(2) 2016 Broadband Progress Report, Federal Communications Commission.