Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Telemedicine Pilot Launched

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the University of Illinois at Chicago are partnering on a new telemedicine pilot program to bring healthcare to inmates with HIV and Hepatitis C. This interagency pilot program was successfully rolled out at Danville, Lincoln, and Robinson Correctional Centers.

Three more prisons in the system will be piloting this program and the hope is to add three prisons each month until all of the facilities are using telemedicine technologies to treat the inmates. IDOC pilot sites scheduled to roll out next month include Logan, Moline, and Western Correctional Centers.

Each facility will have equipment installed and UIC will have a designated area where the physician can do their assessments. Each location has a screen along with medical instruments connected to the telemedicine unit at UIC. A medical staff member from the prison is with the inmate at all times and can be directed in the exam by the specialist at UIC. So far, the equipment has worked well, the clinic flow was smooth, and the patients were very receptive.

According to Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in the Department of Medicine, Dr. Jeremy D. Young, he hopes to provide evidence-based, up-to-date subspecialty care for offenders. He also foresees the program not only providing medical care but also intensive case management services for offenders as they transition from the prison and go back into the community. The plan is to make this an academic program to help provide education and training to IDOC staff and UIC students, residents, and post-graduate infectious diseases fellows.