Alabama hospital uses telehealth to minimize travel times for kidney transplant patients

A program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is connecting kidney transplant recipients in various cities in the state with Birmingham-based physicians via telehealth.

One of these patients, Sheri Faulk, was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1991, according to a May 3 university blog post. She has had to travel to Birmingham for treatments and appointments to assess her transplanted kidney since her diagnosis nearly 30 years ago.

Today, she travels to the Pike County Health Department in Troy, Ala., which she says has cut down her travel time immensely. "Knowing I don't have to make that trip [to Birmingham] anymore, but can still see my doctor, is amazing," Ms. Faulk said, according to the blog post.

During her telehealth appointment, Ms. Faulk undergoes a blood pressure and temperature check conducted by an onsite nurse. She then completes a video conference with her physician, Clifton Kew, MD, medical director of the UAB Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program in Birmingham.

Ms. Faulk is the second of three kidney transplant patients Dr. Kew has seen via telehealth. UAB hopes to grow the remote care program, both in terms of kidney transplant patients and other organ transplant areas. The university plans to expand the program to liver transplant patients during the next few months.

"Being able to see the patients via telehealth not only saves them time, but also reduces the stress of having to make plans to travel for their annual appointments," Dr. Kew said. "I hope this will make it easier for patients to keep their appointments so we can make sure their health is continuing to improve."

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