Utah Telehealth Network, University of Utah launch telehealth pilot

By Eric Wicklund
09:12 AM
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The University of Utah is spearheading a pilot project designed to connect remote and underserved residents dealing with chronic conditions to needed healthcare services and providers through telemedicine.

The federally funded “Improving Healthcare One Patient at a Time” remote monitoring project is being overseen by the university and the Utah Telehealth Network and will make use of Electronic House Call remote monitoring devices, kiosks and interactive voice response (IVR) telehealth solutions supplied by Berkeley Heights, N.J.-based ExpressMD Solutions, a telehealth company formed in 2008 by Authentidate and EncounterCare.

The project will feature one centrally located care coordinator, four clinics monitoring 15-20 patients each and two locations using kiosks to monitor another 30 patients each. Funding is provided by a three-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth.

“The Utah Remote Monitoring Project was selected by the HRSA and OAT to show how telehealth programs and networks can partner to improve access to quality healthcare services for underserved rural and urban communities,” said Sarah Woolsey of Community Health Centers, a seven-clinic primary care provider to Salt Lake County’s uninsured, low-income families and a project partner, in a press release. “We want to demonstrate that patients will have better access to care, engage patients with Diabetes Mellitus and hypertension in their own management with support from the remote care system, and actually improve their health outcomes.”

Others taking part in the project are the University of Utah Health Care Stansbury Health Center and Stroke Center – part of the Intermountain West health system – the Association for Utah Community Health and the Utah Navajo Health System.

“We are seeking innovative ways to deliver improved care to patients who are not able to reach traditional care facilities easily on a regular basis. The Utah Remote Monitoring Project will allow patients to have access to quality healthcare nearer their homes,” said Donna Singer, CEO of the Utah Navajo Health System.

ExpressMD’s Electronic House Call is a touchscreen remote monitoring device used to schedule care reminders and allow patients at home to enter their own vital signs. The kiosk solution is placed in a common location like a clinic or school, from which multiple patients can enter vital signs. Clinicians can access both the EHC and the kiosk via a Web-based application to review patient information, monitor vital signs, manage care plans and medication reminders and further enhance in-person visits.

“UTN provides support for a growing variety of telemedicine programs, with the aim of positively impacting patient outcomes and contributing to ongoing healthcare redesign and payment reform efforts in Utah,” said Marta Peterson, the UTN’s director and vice chairman of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. “This project will implement new methods for chronic disease management for patients in rural and urban Utah.”