Feds Award Grants To Boost Telehealth, Health IT Communication

October 13, 2014 in News

Two universities have been awarded millions of dollars in federal funding to expand telehealth services and improve provider communication through health IT.

CMS Innovation Center Grant Details

Last week, Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced that CMS awarded the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Department of Neurosurgery more than $15 million to expand telehealth services, FierceHealthIT reports.

Specifically, the grant will fund the Access to Critical Cerebral Emergency Support Services initiative, which aims to expand access to neurological care. The grant will enable:

  • 30 hospitals in New Mexico to offer remote emergency neurological and neurosurgical consultation services; and
  • Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to use such services at no out-of-pocket cost (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 10/10).

In a statement, the lawmakers touted telehealth tools as “an effective way to expand patients’ access to fast and reliable emergency care options” (Udall release, 10/9).

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Grant Details

Meanwhile, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has awarded the University of Michigan School of Nursing $1.6 million to fund a study that examines how health IT affects communication among providers, Clinical Innovation Technology reports.

The study will aim to determine uses and failures of certain technologies as communication tools, including:

  • Electronic health records;
  • Email; and
  • Pagers (Pedulli, Clinical Innovation Technology, 10/9).

For the study, researchers will conduct surveys, telephone interviews and focus groups, to develop recommendations for design configurations that will improve the use of health IT for communication.

Lead researcher Milisa Manojlovich said, “In general, as electronic communication has increased, the face-to-face communication between practitioners has decreased, and that has created occasions for crucial information to be passed incorrectly or not at all” (Goth, Health Data Management, 10/9).

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