The United States Department of Agriculture recently awarded Maury Regional Health with a $362,087 grant in support of the organization’s telemedicine initiatives to bring affordable and accessible health care services to rural and at-risk patients.
Maury Regional will utilize the grant monies from the USDA to implement telehealth and remote patient technology throughout the health system’s southern Middle Tennessee service region. The new technology will optimize continual care for a group of patients with chronic illnesses — such as diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — through home monitoring and video visits.
“This grant from the USDA is designed to help rural communities utilize the unique capabilities of telemedicine to overcome the effects of remote locations and low population density — aiming to connect patients in one area with medical service providers in another,” said MRH Vice President of Population Health Mark Kirschbaum. “Maury Regional’s intent is to keep patients engaged, healthier and out of the hospital while decreasing hospitalizations and readmissions, improving health outcomes and reducing costs of care.”
Remote patient monitoring gives the person with the target condition immediate feedback about how well they are self-managing their chronic illness by connecting the patient with their care teams via Bluetooth technology from home 24/7 and alerting providers to lapses in self-management or worsening conditions. The telemedicine technology will also provide timely video visits in response to these alerts, foster learning and self-mastery of illness management.
MRH CEO Alan Watson added, “Our outreach efforts with the support of this grant is further evidence of Maury Regional Health’s commitment to improving the health of the communities we serve with advanced technologies and services.”
MRH has conducted initial meetings with ambulatory care coordinators in affiliated primary care practices and Maury Regional Home Services. These coordinators will be responsible for identifying patients with chronic illnesses for the initial care group while the vendor for the remote patient monitoring technology is finalized.
The award from the USDA is provided with funding from the department’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program, which supports 133 projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories to benefit approximately 5.4 million rural residents. Maury Regional Health is one of three projects in Tennessee to receive funding from the grant.
“The expansion of rural education and health care access significantly advances the quality of life for students and residents,” said Tennessee Rural Development State Director Jim Tracy. “Today’s investments will allow citizens in rural areas to take advantage of these opportunities that would otherwise not be available.”