Telemedicine grant will help improve healthcare access

Sep 12, 2011

To help patients in the mid-Atlantic states access specialty care and reduce the burden of travel for healthcare, the University of Virginia Center for Telehealth will collaborate with a coalition of healthcare providers to expand telemedicine services with support from a federal grant.

This month, the UVA Center for Telehealth was awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to create the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center. UVA, in partnership with telehealth networks across the region, will link rural and urban healthcare providers to expand telehealth capabilities and expertise.

Building upon more than 17 years of technical and policy experience, this resource center will bring together providers in the District of Columbia and six states: Virginia, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.

"We are delighted that HRSA has provided us with this opportunity to share models of care provided via telehealth with our partners across the mid-Atlantic region," says Karen Rheuban, MD, Director of UVA's Center for Telehealth. "It will be a privilege to collaborate with distinguished institutions to further improve access to care using advanced and innovative technologies."

Through UVA's telemedicine network, patients receive care provided by UVA physicians and other health professionals in more than 40 subspecialties. The UVA telemedicine network includes more than 85 locations across Virginia. Thousands of Virginians receive care annually through telemedicine, enabling them to access services not available within their own community. UVA estimates that its telemedicine program has saved Virginians more than 6.7 million miles of travel for medical care, says David Cattell-Gordon, Director of UVA's Office of Telemedicine.

Last year, Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law a bill requiring insurance companies to cover clinical services provided through telemedicine. Virginia is the only state in the mid-Atlantic region that mandates insurance coverage for telemedicine.

While telemedicine provides many benefits to rural communities, Cattell-Gordon says, patients residing in urban areas, such as the District of Columbia, are also positively impacted by these advanced technologies. "This grant provides an opportunity to greatly expand telehealth offerings and partnerships across the mid-Atlantic region."

UVA expects to launch the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center in early October.

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