The University of Virginia Center for Telehealth received a 2014 Governor’s Technology Award for making it easier to access high-quality care and health education for patients across Virginia.
The center was honored in the “IT as Efficiency Driver – Government to Citizen” category for using technology to make it easier for Virginia residents to better access government services. The center received the award at this month’s Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium.
“Through our secure telemedicine network and partnerships with care providers across the commonwealth, we have been able to save lives, reduce unnecessary travel for medical care and bring high-quality specialty care closer to where our patients live,” said Dr. Karen Rheuban, director of the U.Va. Center for Telehealth.
Since its founding in 1996, the center has established 128 telemedicine sites across Virginia and supported more than 40,000 patient encounters in every region of the commonwealth in more than 45 medical subspecialties.
“As the technology has improved over the past 20 years, telemedicine has become an increasingly valuable tool to provide cost-effective, high-quality care while taking better advantage of the skills of our specialists here at U.Va.,” said David C. Gordon, director of the U.Va. Office of Telemedicine.
Here are some examples of how the U.Va. Center for Telehealth has benefited both patients and Virginia residents seeking health care careers:
- Since the center’s founding, it has reduced the travel burden for Virginians seeking medical care by more than 10 million miles.
- A program cares for pregnant women who are at higher risk for delivering their babies early. Neonatal intensive care unit days were reduced by 39 percent for babies born to women who participated in the telemedicine program.
- More than 2,100 patients with diabetes have been screened via telemedicine for diabetic retinopathy – a leading cause of blindness in adults – with 44 percent of screened patients identified as being at risk for blindness or other eye abnormalities requiring further evaluation.
- More than 2,000 Virginians have participated at 45 different locations in diabetes education programs.
- Two hundred-eighty licensed health professionals have been trained as certified telehealth technologists to prepare them for telehealth jobs.