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UVA Launching 6 New Telehealth, mHealth Programs for Chronic Care

The University of Virginia Health System is launching or expanding six telehealth and mHealth programs aimed at improving care management and coordination for people living with chronic conditions.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- The University of Virginia Health System is launching or expanding six telehealth and mHealth programs aimed at improving care management and coordination for people living with chronic diseases.

The new programs, some of which build on a national trend of developing remote patient monitoring platforms to keep track of patients at home, are being supported by more than $750,000 in grant money from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health.

“Virtual care delivery models have proven to improve access, care coordination, clinical outcomes and patient engagement,” Karen S. Rheuban, MD, director of the the UVA Center for Telehealth and a former president of the American Telemedicine Association, said in a press release. “The digital transformation of healthcare has been affirmed by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, as Medicare now covers a broad range of virtual care models. Our collaboration with the CDC in advancing these connected care models to enhance disease prevention will impact patients across the nation.”

The programs will target:

  • RPM for patients living with type 2 diabetes. The university plans to launch a remote monitoring program through the UVA Advanced Diabetes Management Clinic to track patients’ blood-sugar levels and send alerts if those readings indicate a dangerous trend up or down.
  • Diabetic retinopathy screenings. A pilot program will test the effectiveness of low-cost screening devices to remotely test patents living with diabetes for retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness.
  • RPM for patients living with heart disease. A new program will equip patients who have experienced heart failure with telehealth tablets that allow them to track their vital signs and participate in twice-weekly online education and physical activity sessions.
  • mHealth apps for health and wellness. UVA researchers will be assessing health and fitness apps to determine their value, and looking to incorporate gamification tools that might help improve patient engagement and outcomoes.
  • eConsults. UVA is looking to expand a pilot program that enables primary care providers to connect with specialists through a telemedicine platform for advice and support. The platform would synch with the health system’s electronic health records, enabling the specialist to review a patient’s medical records before the consult.
  • Provider training. UVA is also looking at telemedicine programs that would enable them to remotely train healthcare providers to treat patients with chronic diseases.

The programs enhance an already-extensive connected care platform at UVA’s Center for Telehealth, which houses the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center, one of a network of 12 regional and two national resource centers across the country.

Just a few days ago, UVA announced a collaboration with Stone Mountain Health Services and The Health Wagon – a mobile health program serving some of Virginia’s most remote counties – in a telehealth program aimed at helping PCP’s improve lung disease prevention and treat those with the disease. The program is based on the Project ECHO model.

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