The Federal Communications Commission awarded UVA Health $767,139 this week to expand UVA's use of telehealth for patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provided through the FCC's COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the grant will fund equipment and network upgrades to:
- Expand remote patient monitoring as patients are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are discharged from the hospital.
- Deploy a mobile telemedicine solution to congregate care settings such as long-term care and skilled nursing facilities that include remote examination tools and monitoring tools.
- Build a virtual urgent care platform to provide non-emergency care without an in-person visit.
- Support patient-care videoconferencing that reduces the potential for exposure for both patients and care providers exposure at UVA's emergency department and isolation rooms
"Our team here at UVA Health has been providing excellent care for patients with COVID-19, and this grant will help us maintain our readiness to serve our community in the weeks and months ahead," said K. Craig Kent, MD, UVA's executive vice president for health affairs.
How Telehealth Is Helping Patients at UVA
During the pandemic, UVA Health has expanded its interactive home-monitoring program to include many patients with COVID-19 who don't require hospitalization or have recently been discharged from the hospital, as well as patients with chronic illnesses.
UVA has also deployed telemedicine solutions and remote examination tools to patients in partner hospitals, long-term care facilities, assisted living centers and skilled nursing facilities. In each of these locations, UVA clinicians are able to track patients' vital signs and perform virtual visits, enabling care to be provided in place without a transfer to UVA.
UVA Health has also expanded the use of telemedicine tools within our own medical center and emergency department to reduce exposure of patients and providers and conserve personal protective equipment.
UVA will also develop a virtual urgent-care platform to enable patients with non-emergency medical needs to be seen online, without the need to visit the hospital. (UVA recently launched a pilot virtual urgent-care program; more information is available at uvahealth.com/services/telemedicine/virtual-urgent-care.)
"In April and May, we provided more than 46,000 virtual visits using our telehealth platforms," said Karen Rheuban, MD, director of the UVA Center for Telehealth. "We are grateful to the FCC for this grant that will enable us to further expand access to virtual care for patients in the Charlottesville area and across Virginia."