Tennessee Clinics To Increase Rural Access To Specialty Care
Forty-three federally funded community health centers in Tennessee will receive telemedicine equipment by the end of 2007, which is intended to improve lower-income and uninsured residents' access to specialty care, the Tennessean reports. The technology is funded primarily by a $1.6 million grant from the eHealth Council, founded by Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) to implement electronic technology in health care.
Telemedicine, which uses video conferencing through a broadband connection, allows specialists to examine patients in the offices of physicians in different locations. Using the technology, physicians and patients are able to see each other on computer monitors and communicate in real time. Lower-income and uninsured residents often have difficulty receiving specialty medical care for complex conditions because of a lack of local access to medical specialists, according to health officials.
Mary Heinzen, executive director of the Hardeman County Community Health Center, said, "Our patients are going to get better care because they are going to be able to see a specialist more conveniently," adding, "It's going to save time, money and worry on the patient's end" (Pinto, Tennessean, 7/27).
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