A new research center in the University of Iowa College of Public Health will focus on advancing evidence in the area of rural telehealth with $3 million of funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) over the next four years.
Telehealth is the use of electronic and telecommunications technologies to deliver and support health-related services, information, and care. It is becoming increasingly important in sparsely populated rural areas where travel time and a lack of providers present significant challenges to health care.
“Rigorous research is needed to identify telehealth models that are affordable and sustainable, enhance rural access, and maintain and improve quality,” said Dr. Marcia Ward, director of the new, nationally oriented Rural Telehealth Research Center (RTRC). “The goal of the RTRC is to conduct and disseminate impartial, informed, and policy-relevant research on rural telehealth that contributes to building a high-performance system in rural America.”
The RTRC is comprised of three research partners: the University of Iowa, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the University of Southern Maine. Each will conduct research projects with several slated for the first year. These include design and launch of a study for the collection of uniform measures; a study of the impact of emergency telemedicine on timeliness, process of care, and clinical outcomes in rural North Dakota trauma care; as well as creating a baseline inventory of the use of telehealth services among rural Medicaid enrollees.