Monday, October 12, 2009

Telemedicine Sites to Help Children

Many people living in rural or remote Texas communities know that one of the biggest challenges is to access pediatric health services. More than half of the counties in Texas do not have a general pediatrician and in many cases, gaining access to pediatric care involves lengthy travel to locations where pediatric healthcare specialists are available.

Recently, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission funded $6.77 million over 26 months to go to the Telemedicine Program located at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center’s F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health. Plans are to establish 30 telemedicine patient sites to expand and study access to pediatric primary and specialty care for Medicaid enrolled children in rural communities in the 108 most western counties in Texas.

The program called Project CHART has provided the first live pediatric specialty consultation for a child in Stratford Texas, a small rural community more than an hour’s drive from Amarillo. The community’s only healthcare services are provided by the solo nurse practitioner in the community. The technology consists of a television linked to a secure encrypted network where the patient is presented by another physician or nurse from a remote location and then the information is sent to a pediatric specialist located at one of the campuses at TTUHSC.

Billy Philips, PhD., Vice President and Director of the Institute said, “This project will also provide an outstanding platform to conduct complementary population-based research activities to further enhance the quality of life in the region.”