FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the South Central Telehealth Resource Center on Tuesday opened a digital health training center on the University of Northwest Arkansas campus.
The center is one of four satellite sites in Arkansas and one in Tennessee that will train healthcare professionals, students, and patients on how to integrate technology into educational and healthcare settings.
Since much of the state is rural and some people have to drive up to three hours to see a specialist, telehealth has been a big help for Arkansas, said Hari Eswarin, director of the resource center, housed at the UAMS Institute in Little Rock. The university started a telehealth program in 2003 to treat high-risk pregnancies, he said.
Demand for telehealth services has increased during the covid-19 pandemic, and the resource center has heard more requests for assistance from the three states it covers – Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, a declared Eswarin.
The resource center and satellite sites are funded by a two-year grant from the US Department of Agriculture and a one-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, according to a press release. The two grants total $ 1.8 million and were awarded to expand and improve digital health services nationwide and in rural communities, he said.
The Little Rock Resource Center has been open for some time, while central Tennessee recently had a soft launch, said Terri Imus, clinical director of telemedicine at the UAMS Institute of digital health and innovations. The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership’s telehealth training center in Lake Village will be the next to open in January, she said.
The centers will provide technical assistance, train healthcare professionals, help patients feel more comfortable with telehealth visits and increase the workforce in information technology and care health care by introducing high school and medical students to the fields, Eswarin said.
The centers will also help healthcare providers who are launching a telemedicine program on topics such as technical aspects of patient care, telehealth etiquette, privacy concerns, and reimbursement policies. he declares.
Imus demonstrated some devices used in telemedicine during the open house celebrating the launch of the digital health training center in Fayetteville.
Patients often visit their local doctor to be matched with a telemedicine appointment with a specialist, or a home nurse can visit them, she said. Local health care providers are using the technology to present the patient to the specialist, she said.
For example, a stethoscope equipped with Bluetooth allows a specialist working remotely to hear the same heartbeats and lung sounds in real time as the nurse using the device and an otoscope – a device for examining the ear – allows a specialist to see a high resolution video of the ear canal. Remote devices like Bluetooth EKGs and blood pressure cuffs allow patients to monitor their health from home and virtually share the results with their doctor, she said.
Training centers have device travel kits they can send to schools for students to learn how to use them, Imus said.
The centers can also provide training on any device, Imus said. If a patient or healthcare provider finds a technology they like, the center will help them learn how to use it, she said.
Being able to connect patients with specialists remotely saves them time, allows them to see a doctor faster, and hopefully helps patients better control chronic disease, she said. .
“It just brings the patient into that provider or into that specialist’s office without ever leaving their community,” Imus said.
Satellite digital health training centers
• UAMS North West Regional Campus – Fayetteville
• UAMS Regional Campus – Helena-West Helena
• University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center – Memphis, Tennessee.
• Arkansas Rural Health Partnership – Lake Village
• Jefferson Regional Medical Center School of Nursing – Pine Bluff