Federal grant enhances Missouri Telehealth Network's virtual health care

Friday, September 17, 2010 | 6:52 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — New federal grant money improves resources for communities without access to health care, according to the Missouri Telehealth Network.

The Department of Health and Human Services awarded more than $60,000 to enhance the Missouri Telehealth Network's interactive videoconference health care program, which serves patients in rural and urban areas lacking doctors, said Rachel Mutrux, director of the network.

"This brings health care to the patient," Mutrux said.

With the grant, the network will be able to train more doctors, specialists and nurses to use technology allowing under-served patients greater access, she said.

The network, based at MU, has partnered with the University of Kansas Medical Center and the University of Oklahoma to form the Heartland Telehealth Resource Center.

The resource center establishes a connection between existing telehealth resources in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. This facilitates health care access to areas that are otherwise lacking, said Natalie Fieleke, spokeswoman for the MU School of Medicine.

In the three states, 90 percent of the counties are rural, and more practitioners equal greater access, Mutrux said.

Currently, the Missouri Telehealth Network operates 200 sites where doctors can communicate with patients in 58 Missouri counties. The network has provided 26,000 patients with videoconference health care service and completed 105,000 radiology exams.

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