Indiana University Health working to increase rural access to healthcare


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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University Health is tapping into nearly $50 million of federal funding to help increase access to quality health care.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a $50 million investment in 105 rural distance learning and telemedicine projects.

The USDA said the investment is intended to expand the quality of life for 7.6 million people in rural areas.

“This investment will help rural residents receive the same health care as their urban counterparts while saving time and money in travel to visit specialty clinics. USDA is proud to be part of this important project to increase the quality of life for Indiana’s rural residents.”

Curtis Johnson, Indiana Rural Development Acting State Director

Among the projects is $847,000 going towards Indiana University Health Inc. purchasing and installing telemedicine equipment at eight Indiana University Health rural critical access hospitals.

The department said this equipment will expand access to around-the-clock behavioral health services and include peer recovery coaching and psychiatric assessments virtually to the rural facilities that will be participating.

This project will enhance care in 217 additional rooms system-wide for approximately 56,000 patients annually and will help create more timely, co-located, high-quality behavioral health treatment for residents.

Introducing telehealth technology into IU Health’s rural, critical access hospital inpatient rooms, and emergency departments will allow managing clinicians to communicate and visually connect with patients. Specialty consults will provide increased access to services including behavioral health to provide care, conduct assessments, navigate referrals, advise on medications, and more.

This project represents a sustainable, high-quality and cost-effective approach that will allow patients to be monitored and cared for by a consistent team, ensuring our patients are getting the right care at the right time.

IU Health

This award is being funded through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program. This program helps fund distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas to increase access to education, training and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable.

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