Marshfield Clinic recently received a $39,675 grant to support its ongoing initiative to increase patient access to health care through telecommunications and videoconferencing.
The grant, awarded by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), will fund new interactive videoconferencing technology that connects patients in rural areas to health care providers at Marshfield Clinic.
The clinic is able to expand its TeleHealth capabilities, including two services-telepharmacy and telestroke-and will add mobile videoconferencing technology thanks to the grant funds, said Nina M. Antoniotti, director of TeleHealth at Marshfield Clinic.
The clinic’s TeleHealth services play an important role in clinical care. For instance, patients can avoid long drives in order to see a specialist, and physicians are able to diagnose and develop treatment plans quickly in certain emergency situations.
“TeleHealth means improved access, it means better clinical outcomes, higher quality of care and decreased costs for patients,” Antoniotti said.
Telepharmacy services allow pharmacists at Clinic locations to remotely oversee the mixing of drugs, including chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer, at other locations. The system enhances patient safety and improves turnaround times for these much-needed drugs. The clinic has 11 telepharmacy sites throughout its system.
When a person has a stroke, a quick response is vital. TeleHealth allows a neurologist to videoconference into a hospital in order to make urgent treatment decisions without delay. Important to the delivery of stroke evaluation is mobility of videoconferencing.
The grant from PSC also will support the clinic’s initiative to incorporate mobile services into TeleHealth, which will allow physicians to video conference on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
“It’s about innovation in care,” Antoniotti said. “We’re taking the next step and implementing mobile applications.”
The grant, one of 23 awarded to health care providers in Wisconsin, is funded by the state’s universal service fund. The grants target projects that demonstrate the use of advanced telecommunications services to extend the availability of medical care in rural areas and among underserved populations, according to the PSC.