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Telemedicine Gets Boost


Kansas City, MO – Leaders of a new telemedicine initiative are hoping to expand the use of the technology in rural areas where doctors and other specialists are difficult to access.

The virtual Heartland Telehealth Resource Center will help doctors and other providers get started with video-conferencing and other telemedicine technologies.

Ryan Spaulding is director of KU's Center for Telehealth, which has been around for nearly two decades. He's heading the new initiative and says telemedicine can be important for many rural parts of Kansas and Missouri with health care shortages....but he says it can be a challenge.

"Telemedicine, even though it's been around for a of couple decades, still is fairly complicated," says Spaulding. "The technology is quite varied. There's a lot of information that people need about the policies, about reimbursement, about clinical protocols."

Spaulding says the new center will pool experts from KU Medical Center, the University of Missouri, and the University of Oklahoma to assist doctors in setting up the technology and support those already using it.

The program's being funded through a three year $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS awarded the money last week, as part of $32 million in new and renewing rural health grants. The National Rural Health Association, based in Kansas City, also received half a million dollars to provide technical assistance to rural health training programs around the country. Hays Medical Center got $200,000 for a new 12-week nursing residency program, aimed at recruiting and retaining nurses at rural hospitals throughout Kansas.

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