Thu. Oct 6th, 2022

The health system is using federal grant money to deploy 40 digital health kits to six new sites in rural parts of the state, allowing healthcare providers to enhance RPM efforts for patients with chronic care needs.

UVA Health is adding six new sites to its telehealth platform to improve access to care for rural residents with chronic health issues.

The Charlottesville, Virginia-based health system is using more than $700,000 in federal grants to deploy 40 reusable digital health kits, including connected devices and internet-enabled tablets, to sites in rural parts of the state where access to healthcare services is problematic.

The kits will be used by Bath Hospital in Hot Springs, Bland County Medical Center in Bastian, Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems in Tazewell, Tri-Area Community Health in Laurel Fork, and the Monacan Indian Nation in Madison Heights to develop remote patient monitoring services for patients with heart failure. The sixth, Central Virginia Health Services in Farmville, will use the kits to develop an RPM program for pregnant women at risk of giving birth prematurely.

“These grants enable the delivery of new, updated telemedicine equipment to our partners and allow them to utilize remote monitoring tools to improve care coordination and clinical outcomes for the patients they serve,” Karen S. Rheuban, MD, Director of the UVA Center for Telehealth and a UVA School of Medicine faculty member, said in a press release.

Through the program, selected patients will take a kit home with them, monitor their health and send that data back to their care teams on a regular schedule through the tablet, which will allow providers to adjust care management plans as needed and communicate with patients on demand.

“We can save patients travel time, and patients can connect with their healthcare providers through text messages and video as well as send photos and conduct virtual visits,” added Novella Thompson, UVA Health’s Administrator for Population Health. UVA Health’s Department of Population Health is supporting the new services.

These six sites will also become part of UVA Health’s Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) platform. They’ll be part of a hub-and-spoke telemedicine network, with UVA Health at the center, that will allow them to learn from experts and specialists across the state and share best practices on RPM programs and other digital health topics.

[See also: Understanding the Value of a Hub-and-Spoke Telemedicine Program]

The expansion adds to a well-known telehealth network run by the UVA Center for Telehealth, which also serves as the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center, one of 12 federally funded regional resource centers and two national resource centers which collectively make up the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers.

“Patients will be monitored on a more regular basis by trained professionals who can determine if something is changing or if a negative health event has happened,” James L. Werth Jr., PhD, chief executive officer of Tri-Area Community Health, said in the press release. “This can prevent problems from getting worse or, in some extreme cases, may help save a person’s life.”

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.

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