Rutgers' pilot telehealth program seeks to help underserved

Rutgers School of Nursing and based Rutgers Business School, both in Newark, N.J., are working with SmartCareDoc on a pilot program to bring telehealth services to patients living in public housing in Newark, according to

The pilot program is not focused on physicians — instead, it's headed up by nurses, while nurse practitioners handle the primary care, according to Ann Bagchi, PhD, BSN, RN, an instructor at the Rutgers School of Nursing.

The program will utilize portable devices from SmartCareDoc, a telehealth platform that's part of Langhorne, Pa.-based Telemed Ventures. These devices can be plugged into a computer, cellphone or tablet, and nurses can use them to perform a variety of standard procedures, including checking a patient's blood pressure, pulse and temperature.

Rutgers and SmartCareDoc personnel hope the program will not only shed light on the benefits of telemedicine, but also the advantages of using telemedicine in underserved areas.

"Lower income, urban communities typically have poorer health outcomes and often face barriers to care, such as transportation," Dr. Bagchi said, according to the report. "This project can help us uncover ways to take some of the burden off people with chronic conditions and help them to live healthier lives."

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