According to a story from mHealth Intelligence, the University of Alabama has found success with using telehealth to check in with kidney disease patients that are on dialysis. Now, it has plans to expand its telehealth operations to include transplant patients as well. Currently, the school of medicine is using telehealth to treat three kidney transplant patients, and they hope to begin work with liver transplant patients as well.
The Capabilities of Telehealth
The expansion of telehealth programs at the university is a reflection of a broader expansion that is happening across the country. Telehealth has significant utility for patients that have long term, chronic diseases. Many rare diseases fall into this category. Temple University is launching a telehealth platform that will specialize in managing care for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a rare lung disease. If you would like to learn more about the program, click here.
The primary benefit of telehealth platforms is that they can be a significant boost in convenience both for patients and for doctors. Telehealth can allow doctors to consult with chronic disease patients either at a close-by clinic or from the patient’s home; many chronic diseases may limit a patient’s ability to travel, so the telehealth platform can significantly benefit a patient’s quality of life and negate the stress of having to travel for appointments. Meanwhile, physicians are freed up to dedicate more time to patients that require procedures that necessitate a visit to a hospital or doctor’s office.
Helping Treat Rare Diseases
Dr. Eric Wallace, who is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Alabama, says that telehealth allows for the highly specialized care that rare disease can require to be available across the state, and can help compensate for major gaps in treatment access. This is especially beneficial in more remote, rural parts of Alabama.
A recent grant of $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used to install the equipment necessary for telehealth in nine different hospitals and ten additional county health departments across the state. While obviously there are limitations for what can be done over telehealth platforms, they offer a new degree of efficiency and convenience for both rare disease patients and their caregivers.