Telemedicine pilot pro­grams ex­pand ac­cess to care

The Kent Island Bay Times - - Bay Views -

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Telemedicine pro­grams used in the de­liv­ery of emer­gency psy­chi­atric care and pal­lia­tive care have ex­panded ac­cess to care in th­ese spe­cial­ties for pa­tients in Kent and Queen Anne’s coun­ties, thanks to a col­lab­o­ra­tive project of Univer­sity of Mary­land Shore Re­gional Health, Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem and Univer­sity of Mary­land School of Medicine.

Telemedicine uses com­puter video and au­dio and re­lated tech­nolo­gies that en­able physi­cians and other care providers in one lo­ca­tion to com­mu­ni­cate with health pro­fes­sion­als and pa­tients in an­other.

De­signed to over­come the lim­ited avail­abil­ity of spe­cial­ists in cer­tain ar­eas of the five-county re­gion served by Shore Re­gional Health, the de­vel­op­ment of telemedicine ap­pli­ca­tions to pro­vide pal­lia­tive care and emer­gency psy­chi­atric care was sup­ported by a $75,149 grant from the Mary­land Health Care Com­mis­sion and a 2:1 match from UM SRH. Funds were used to pur­chase the needed tech­nol­ogy and sup­port the cost of a study to eval­u­ate the ef­fec­tive­ness of the two pro­grams.

That study in­di­cated strong suc­cess for the use of telemedicine in both spe­cial­ties. In emer­gency psy­chi­atric care, wait times for pa­tients need­ing as­sess­ment in Kent and Queen Anne’s coun­ties were re­duced by nearly one-third. In pal­lia­tive care, telemedicine fa­cil­i­tated a three-fold in­crease in the num­ber of pa­tients who were able to ac­cess and ben­e­fit from a pal­lia­tive care con­sult and/ or treat­ment.

“We are pleased to see that the use of the tech­nol­ogy is widely ac­cepted by physi­cians and pa­tients,” said Shore Re­gional Health Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Wil­liam Huffner, MD. “We are now in the process of re­fin­ing and ex­pand­ing telemedicine ser­vices in pal­lia­tive care, emer­gency psy­chi­atric care and other sub­spe­cial­ties.”

WIL­LIAM HUFFNER

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