Texas Tech uses video conferencing to identify potentially dangerous students

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Amid the nationwide debate on gun control and school safety, a Lubbock-based Texas Tech University telemedicine program shows promise in vetting potentially dangerous students and helping them access the mental healthcare they need, Chron reports.

The Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage and Referral, or TWITR Project, launched shortly after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It combines video chatting and other telecommunications technologies to screen and treat students in 11 nearby school districts.

According to TTU's Health Sciences Center President Tedd Mitchell, MD, roughly 34,000 middle school and high school students have been assessed through TWITR. Approximately 10 percent of them received telemedicine-facilitated counseling, while about 300 were referred to telepsychiatric care. About 25 students were flagged as at-risk for suicide or homicide and were removed from school.

"The good news with a program like this is, you can find those kids who are just about to blow," Dr. Mitchell told Chron.

Since its inception, referrals for bad behavior are down 37 percent, and Dr. Mitchell adds the project has reduced unexcused absences and improved academic performances in some students.

"Whatever your approach is to cutting school violence, this can be part of it," Dr. Mitchell said. "We couldn't have screened thousands of kids without telemedicine. And you could do the same thing in urban areas, where there are healthcare deserts."

More articles on telehealth:
VA releases VA Video Connect telehealth app
Majority of healthcare pros pursuing telemedicine use enterprise approach, survey suggests
Startup Insider: 4 questions with swyMed CEO Stefano Migliorisi on rolling out telemedicine to remote areas

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