University receives grant to expand telehealth

Friday, November 2 2012

Not every healthcare facility has the resources to increase its use of video conferencing software for everyday operations. Some hospitals and research labs lack the necessary funding to acquire the technology to make remote meetings more common.

The University of Arizona recently received a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand its Southwest Telehealth Resource Center. Officials from the facility say the funds will be used to expand their current programs, such as webinars, but the main focus is on increasing patient outreach and offering better treatment by connecting more facilities.

Dr. Robert Weinstein, director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program, said, "So what this ultimately does is allow individual sites to specialize and to share with a collaborator base. I would expect the quality and depth of materials goes up quite dramatically."

As more hospitals integrate video conferences into their facilities, they'll have increased access to specialists who can assist patients. This can help save lives as victims won't have to be moved in order to meet with expert medical professionals.

The grant also highlights the increasing popularity of telehealth. Government bureaus have been increasing the funding for these types of programs due to the efficiency with which doctors can use web conferencing applications.