How Telemedicine is Improving Care Access in Arkansas

In Arkansas, like in many parts of the U.S., physician expertise is unevenly distributed throughout the state, leaving a large percent of the state's population without easy access to specialized care. A burgeoning telemedicine program in the state, however, is helping to improve care access in the most rural parts of the state, according to an article in Health Affairs.

Beginning in 2003, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock began a telemedicine network to offer increased access to obstetrics specialists to rural residents. The state's telemedicine network has since expanded to include 454 sites and a variety of specialties.

Initially, the expansion of telemedicine services faced several challenges, including technological limitations at the care sites, inadequate user training and financial hurdles, as well as concerns about the expertise of the presiding physicians and the quality of services rendered via telemedicine.

However, the network has proven effective at allowing needed physician expertise to reach remote parts of the state, allowing patients with complex conditions to be treated closer to home. Additionally, the network improved communication and collaboration between provider organizations that either had no contact or saw each other as competitors. The improved relationships led to collaborations to expand access to limited healthcare resources, and helped foster productive discussions on other ways to improve care in Arkansas.

More Articles on Telemedicine:

3 Common Barriers to Telestroke Programs
Study: Everyone Worries About Dropping the Ball in Telemedicine
New Mississippi Program to Connect Rural Diabetics with Specialists via Telehealth

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