There has been much discussion regarding the benefits of telemedicine to patients and how it allows patients to easily and quickly connect with medical providers and specialists. A new grant titled, Telehealth ROCKS, will further these efforts by helping connect children in rural areas with developmental disabilities and disorders, to specialists throughout Kansas.
Telehealth ROCKS, which stands for Rural Outreach for Children in Kansas, is funded through a three-year grant written by Dr. Eve-Lynn Nelson, a clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The grant is focused in the southeast region of the state, which is where the project director, Shawna Wright, thought they could have the most impact for a couple of reasons;
“One is the health professional shortage, that we just don’t have enough people on the ground that can meet the needs of families and children with developmental and behavioral disabilities or disorders. The other is the poverty rate. We know in this area of the state we have a high poverty rate. We see more uninsured and underinsured individuals, and so the grant is really targeted to helping those children and families that have don’t have access to services and covering costs and hoping to also reduce the cost of time and expense from travel for those that would otherwise have to travel to the city and finance the means to do that.”
Medical providers of the program are available to help with children on the autism spectrum, as well as anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, and other disorders. The availability of multiple providers will also help to lessen wait times, as extended delays for treatment can lead to a variety of problems for both patients and parents. Furthermore, the grant helps cover the cost of the services if the patient’s insurance does not cover them. Project ECHO, a nationwide telemedicine bill that was unanimously passed by the senate, is also included within the scope of the original grant. This endeavor connects rural providers to specialists across the state to increase patients’ access to care and encourage collaboration within the medical field.
Telemedicine programs like these will remain sustainable if they can prove outcomes and cost savings.