Grant helps UA's Southwest Telehealth Resource Center connect providers, rural patients

October 6th, 2017
Grant helps UA's Southwest Telehealth Resource Center connect providers, rural patients
The Southwest Telehealth Resource Center assists with start-up and existing telehealth programs in underserved and rural communities throughout five Southwestern states - including the Navajo Nation. Credit: Averette at en.wikipedia, Monumentvalleyviewfromnorth, cropped, CC-BY-3.0
Helping health-care providers connect with patients in some of the most underserved areas of the Southwest is the mission of the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (SWTRC), which recently received a $975,000 cooperative agreement grant from the federal Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, a division of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant will fund the SWTRC from Sept. 1 through August 2020.

One of only 14 telehealth resource centers in the United States, the SWTRC was established in 2009 under the aegis of the Arizona Telemedicine Program, headquartered at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson. The SWTRC offers telehealth services to providers in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada.

The center assists start-up telehealth programs as well as existing programs in hospitals, clinics, public health offices and other programs and facilities that want to extend their services to underserved areas. Assistance can include advising programs on the types of telehealth equipment that would best serve their needs, developing a business and marketing plan and training telehealth staff.

"This grant will enable the University of Arizona to leverage its expertise in health care and its nationally recognized leadership in telemedicine for the benefit of not just the people of Arizona, but people across the Southwest," said UA President Robert C. Robbins, MD. "Telehealth is an incredibly important use of technology as we work to create broader access to quality health care, and it is a wonderful example of how the UA can lead. I am very excited to see how this program continues to thrive."

Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), is principal investigator on the grant, No. G22RH30360. He and Elizabeth A. Krupinski, PhD, serve as co-directors of the SWTRC, with Kristine A. Erps serving as associate director of administration. Along with the rest of the highly experienced ATP team, they provide expert advice and support to those interested in telemedicine in the Southwest.

"For nearly 10 years, the SWTRC has served as the 'go to' site for training, technical assistance and advice regarding telemedicine implementation and practice," said Dr. Krupinski.

The SWTRC supports programs throughout their growth with a variety of resources, including the ATP's T-Health Institute in downtown Phoenix on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. The T-Health Amphitheater, its "e-Classroom-of-the-Future," serves as a video-conferencing center where SWTRC members can attend training programs, participate in physician grand rounds and take part in webinars and academic courses.

"The SWTRC is a valuable resource for health-care organizations and individual medical practitioners throughout the Southwest," said Dr. Weinstein. "We get to share the 'secrets for success' of the national award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program with health-care organizations in five states. It's a great arrangement. They learn from us and we learn from them. Everybody wins!"

Provided by University of Arizona

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