Aroostook County

Aroostook County population: 67,055     
People living in rural areas: 80% 
Households with no internet access: 23.8% 
(7,025 total households) 

In 2021, the National Quality Forum released a draft measurement framework2 to guide quality and performance improvement for telehealth in rural areas and in response to disasters. The framework includes five domains that are useful when assessing telehealth and the availability  of broadband infrastructure to support this modality. Framework domains, with select county3 and Northern Light Health data, are below: 

1.  Access to care and technology available:

  • Percent of households without internet access: 23.8%
  • Percent of households without computer, smartphone or tablet: 17.6%
  • Average speed test (M-Lab) in county: 26.82 down/7.78 up (standard is 25 down/3 up)
  • Number of individuals utilizing NLH in-home telemonitoring technology (statewide): 213 at any point in time
  • Percent of primary care visits 30 or more miles from home: 17.7%
Access to care identified as a top concern in Aroostook County in the Maine Shared CHNA.

2.  Northern Light Health telehealth services:
These subspecialties are currently available through Northern Light Health via telehealth:
  • Gastroenterology
  • Cardiology
  • Hematology
  • Neurology
  • OncologyRheumatology
  • Endocrine surgeryNeurosurgery
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Primary care and pediatrics
  • Women’s health
  • Substance use disorders

3.  Experience:
The majority of patients report a positive telehealth experience. For those who report a negative experience, broadband capacity and connectivity was identified as a significant reason.

4.  Effectiveness:
Disease and mental health prevalence in Aroostook County:
  • Three or more chronic conditions: 19%
  • Diabetes: 12.5%
  • COPD: 11.8% 
  • Obesity: 36.5%
  • Depression (adults): 11.4% 
  • Depression (lifetime): 23.5%
  • Seriously considered suicide:high school 15.6%, middle school 18.3%
Telehealth and in-home telemonitoring are used to provide care and manage these and other conditions.

5.  Equity:
  • Poverty rates: 16.1% (all populations), 20.2% (children)
  • No vehicle in household: 2.9%
  • Percent of people 65 years and older: 21.3%
  • Percent of people 65 years and older living alone: 32.2%
  • Percent of people with a disability: 22.3%

Northern Light Health hubs and resources:
  • Northern Light Acadia Hospital
  • Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital
  • Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center