Dahl Memorial Healthcare Association, a private, nonprofit facility that houses a nursing home, clinic and hospital in Ekalaka, has received a $95,000 grant for a yearlong study into how telemedicine is used to provide primary health care.
Grant money will be used to buy equipment that will allow a primary care physician, in a location other than the patient, to receive the real-time clinical information needed to make decisions about a patient’s health. A nurse with the patient in the community of about 350 people will help facilitate the visit.
Money will also be used to train staff and test the primary care telemedicine model. Included in the study will be an in-depth look at primary care telemedicine models used in other remote locations. Examples include rural health networks in Alaska and use of telemedicine for workers in remote locations like oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
Both Billings Clinic and Glendive Medical Center are providing clinical expertise. Eastern Montana Telemedicine Network (EMTN) is providing the technical support to design and implement a “new model of primary care though telemedicine,” said Thelma McClosky Armstrong, director of EMTN at Billings Clinic.
“Billings Clinic’s commitment to increasing access for rural communities in our region to quality health care will be further strengthened through this opportunity,” McClosky Armstrong said.
The bulk of the grant, $85,000, will be provided by federal funds from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The remaining $10,000 will come from the Montana Health Network’s foundation, Rural Health Development. Montana Health Network’s primary purpose is to support hospitals and nursing homes in the state of Montana with the research and development of products and services as well as collaboration for cost-saving efficiencies.
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