Patients in rural areas face limited access to medical and oncology providers, long travel times, and low recruitment to clinical trials, all of which affect quality of care and health outcomes. Rural counties also have high rates of cancer-related mortality and other negative treatment outcomes. This article draws on discussions at a 2019 event hosted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and summarizes the challenges to delivering high-quality care in rural communities. The experience of the three institutional approaches featured in the article suggests that increasing rural patients’ access to care requires: 1) expanding services and decreasing travel distances, 2) mitigating financial burdens when insurance coverage is limited, 3) opening avenues to clinical trial participation, and 4) creating partnerships between providers and community leaders to address local gaps in care. Because the characteristics of rural communities, health care resources, and patient populations are not homogeneous, rural health disparities require local solutions that are based on community needs, available resources, and trusting and collaborative partnerships.
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