UPMC brings telemedicine to rural county hospitals
By Jason Cato
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Imagine living in a rural county but getting the expertise of doctors at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh without having to travel to the city.
A webcam and Internet connection that debuts on Monday will allow that to happen for parents who take their children to one of five hospitals, courtesy of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.
The Outreach program, short for Optimizing Utilization and Rural Emergency Access for Children, brings telemedicine to UPMC Northwest Hospital in Venango County, UPMC Horizon Hospital in Mercer County, Washington Hospital, Armstrong County Memorial Hospital and DuBois Regional Medical Center in Clearfield County.
Outreach enables professionals from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to examine and diagnose pediatric patients remotely.
“Our goal is to reduce unnecessary transfers while providing the same level of world-class service, using telemedicine, that our patients receive when they come directly to the Children's campus,” said Harun Rashid, the hospital's vice president of global health services and chief information officer.
The program, under development for about two years, became possible with a $1 million federal grant, said Dr. Jeremy Kahn, a health services researcher, physician and professor at Pitt's School of Medicine and Graduate School of Public Health, who leads the project.
“This is a significant step forward in how we provide pediatric emergency care in Western Pennsylvania,” Kahn said.
UPMC intends to recruit other hospitals. The grant will pay for the program for four years initially, though Kahn said he hopes to find long-term funding.
“Ultimately, we want all of the hospitals in Western Pennsylvania to be participants,” he said.
In the past year, more than 400 pediatric patients in rural facilities across Western Pennsylvania were driven or flown to Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville, where doctors examined and immediately released them, emergency room records showed. Officials said telemedicine could have saved $800,000.
Outreach staffers will work with hospital officials, health care workers and families to identify barriers to providing emergency pediatric care and telemedicine at rural hospitals. They'll develop a standardized education program to help hospitals effectively use telemedicine consultations and evaluate the effectiveness of the project by examining data from the state Medicaid program, which pays for a large portion of pediatric emergency care, Kahn said.
“It's a huge expense to the Medicaid program, and it's a huge burden on families,” he said.
Outreach could become a model nationwide.
“We don't want this program to end after four years,” Kahn said.
Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Drug company buys Duquesne prof’s cancer research
- Smaller transit service funds intact under new Pa. transportation plan
- Nation increasingly at odds over use of ‘God’
- North Side market’s ‘good run’ comes to end
- Energy drinks, alcohol don’t mix, study finds
- Feds to oversee PHEAA, other student loan contractors
- Allegheny County District Attorney’s budget bump to fund employee pay raises
- Pittsburgh Foundation’s Wishbook features 48 nonprofits
- Newsmaker: Kacey Marra
- Pittsburgh Poison Center warns of krokodil
- $1B Christmas tree industry has deep roots in Pa.