Grants help Kansas University Medical Center expand telemedicine across Kansas and the Midwest

Kansas City 12 December 2006In the 15 years since its founding, the Kansas University Center for TeleMedicine and TeleHealth (KUCTT) of the University of Kansas Medical Center has become one of the most active programmes of its kind in the world. This longevity and success has now been recognized in the form of two new federal grants, one of which will make the Center one of only four telehealth resource centres in the United States.

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Two recently awarded federal grants will allow the KUCTT to create even greater access to clinical services and health education programmes for patients and professionals throughout Kansas and across the Midwest.

"We are thrilled to have received this funding and recognition for our programme and look forward to improving health care access for those in Kansas and throughout the region for many years to come", stated Ryan J. Spaulding, PhD, Director of KUCTT and Principal Investigator of the network expansion grant.

On the regional level, KU has partnered with Marquette General Hospital and Purdue University to develop the one of four Telemedicine Resource Centers in the United States organized and funded by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). The HRSA has awarded a grant of approximately $1 million to fund the programme, to be distributed among the institutions over the course of three years.

Known as the Midwest Alliance for Telehealth and Technology Resources, the group will serve the Midwest's health care organisations in organizing and expanding telemedicine programmes. This multiparty resource centre will focus on improving the accessibility and quality of health care by supporting telehealth networks designed to meet the needs of rural and underserved residents within Kansas, Indiana, Michigan and the greater region.

The allied institutions offer a unique combination of individual expertise, and each will provide a distinct component of technical assistance, training and support to health care providers. KUCTT will focus on the technical aspects of telemedicine and will manage databases for the programme's participants.

By pooling their resources, the Midwest Alliance for Telehealth and Technology Resources will allow health care organisations to develop successful and sustainable telehealth programming that will result in better treatment for patients in underserved areas and improved access to information for health care professionals.

KUCTT will also be expanding its own programme in Kansas through a separate, $750.000 HRSA grant. With connections to more than 60 sites across the state, the Kansas telehealth network has conducted more than 16.000 clinical consultations across 30 specialities. That number is sure to increase over the next three years, as this grant will help fund an expansion of the telehealth network, bringing new services to 13 sites in 11 counties across Kansas. These counties have a population of 267.772 that includes a high proportion of elderly, children, Native Americans and Hispanics.

KUCTT will also be expanding its programme offerings, focusing on addressing paediatric special needs. The programme has experienced a significant increase in the need for youth consultations, and has developed school-based services for developmental, chronic health and acute illness issues, but considerable demand still exists.

Developmental delays and mental health diagnoses are increasing in Kansas children. While these conditions are common, the specialists who treat them are relatively rare. With this programme expansion, KUCTT will focus on treating developmental disabilities such as autism by providing a link between patients and specialists. By providing improved access to the specific care patients need, from infancy on, KUCTT will help to ensure Kansans enjoy a lifetime of health.


Leslie Versweyveld

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