UAMS Readies $128M High-Speed Network

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Jan. 31, 2011 12:00 am  

But the option of having a telemedicine consultation between ER physicians can lead to better decisions about who gets transferred and who doesn't, and can have a positive impact in terms of quality and expense, he said.

Often, nursing homes don't have the practitioners on hand to make appropriate decisions about which patients need to be moved to a hospital, Lowery said. If the nursing home staff can quickly consult with a far-away specialist, they could avoid unnecessary transfers.

"I think that's another area that has the potential to save, across the nation, hundreds of millions of dollars and within our state certainly tens of millions, if applied appropriately," he said.

The network will also help reduce duplicative testing, said Benton, of UAMS.

"When you move patients from one facility to another, sometimes their information gets lost or it's corrupted," she said.

If a receiving physician can't find a patient's X-ray or CT scan, another test might have to be ordered.

"And so the payer, the insurance company, has to pay for both scans. So that drives health care [costs] up," Benton said "So if everybody has access to one image that was already done, the one test, then you're not recreating."


Existing Programs

Benton is director of the UAMS Antenatal & Neonatal Guidelines Education & Learning System. ANGELS is another telemedicine program, along with Arkansas Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support.

Those programs are both examples of how UAMS had been using broadband to deliver health care for several years, Lowery said. "We'd sort of, in a piecemeal fashion, built a network around the state," Lowery said.

This fact probably was a significant reason why UAMS was awarded the large grant from the Department of Commerce, Lowery said.



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