EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship


Chapter 3 – Overcoming Health Disparities: The Need for Communication and Cultural Competency Training for Healthcare Providers Practicing Virtually in Rural Areas


Health Promotion and Administration

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



For individuals living in rural communities around the globe, health disparities resulting from limited access to medical care have become more prominent in recent decades. Residents of rural communities are more likely to experience greater levels of poverty, higher rates of chronic disease, and greater transportation challenges while living in areas where fewer physicians practice when compared to persons living in urban areas. However, technological advances now enable health professionals to address many of these disparities through healthcare delivered remotely. This viable, and so far proven alternative model for program delivery is known as telemedicine. Facilitating medical encounters through telemedicine for rural populations can increase healthcare efficiency, effectiveness, and reach while maintaining a substantial degree of interpersonal interaction. However, the introduction of telemedicine in any community alters the dynamic of the traditional face-to-face model of care, and providers and patients may find telemedicine to be challenging at first. Incorporating telemedicine into healthcare delivery necessitates that providers be trained, not only technologically, but also communicatively to ensure positive patient outcomes. Training for providers practicing virtually, across town or across the globe, must include an emphasis on cultural competency, shared decision-making, motivational interviewing, and empathetic communication in order to promote patient understanding and satisfaction.

Book Title

Health Professionals' Education in the Age of Clinical Information Systems, Mobile Computing and Social Networks