USDA announces funding for rural telemedicine projects

The government recently gave grants to 32 projects designed to help practitioners in rural counties in 22 states provide better healthcare by easing access for patients. Find out if your state is among them.

If you practice in a rural area, you and your patients may be getting some help in providing and accessing healthcare via telemedicine.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it is providing $14 million in grants for projects aimed at increasing access to healthcare and educational opportunities in rural counties in 29 states. Thirty-two of the recipients are telemedicine-related projects, and one combines distance learning and telemedicine.

“Our rural communities need access to the latest educational and healthcare services to compete in the 21st century,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “The funding…will help ensure that rural citizens receive the same high-level, specialized medical care and educational services as enjoyed by their fellow citizens in urban areas.”

Among the telemedicine recipients:

Carson City Hospital in Carson City, Michigan, received $477,711 to buy clinical examination equipment to create a care management and consultation network for primary care physicians and their patients at the hospital and three family care centers

Dean Health Systems in Madison, Wisconsin, received $446,735 to enable residents of seven counties in rural Wisconsin to use 12 telemedicine sites that will provide access to cardiology, pharmacy, and dermatology services. The equipment also will improve the coordination of disaster responses in the counties.

Eastern Aleutian Tribes Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska, received $422,521 to expand and upgrade telemedicine equipment to better enable direct, real-time visual diagnosis, provider-to-patient consultation, and medical staff consultation.

Ocracoke Health System Inc. in Ocracoke, North Carolina, received $358,967 to help buy cart-based video conferencing units, peripheral technology such as digital stethoscopes, and laptop computers for accessing and entering patient records.

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