Students in four Arkansas school districts could help shape the future of medicine in the state.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Arkansas Department of Education are partnering to pilot a telemedicine program in Jasper, Lee County, Malvern, and Magazine School Districts. The four districts were chosen partly because they have existing school-based health centers.
Tina Benton with the UAMS Center for Distance Health says the program is designed to reach students in rural parts of the state.
“We’ll try different kinds of methodologies and hopefully we can help them just by technology and have it creating access to services for the students,” Benton said. “I think we’ll be measuring how much time the child is back in the seat in their school.”
Benton says a secondary benefit will be fewer hours missed from work by parents, who will be able to use their smartphones to access the telemedicine appointments of their children rather than taking time off.
Funding for the program comes from a $1.2 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The 3-year pilot will emphasize psychiatric services the first year, obesity prevention in the second, and dental health in the final year. The school-based initiative joins existing telemedicine programs focused on improving maternal health and reducing strokes in Arkansas.