CoxHealth to expand telemedicine services

Saturday, February 17, 2018

22 schools to receive service through USDA grant

Even more local children will be able to receive health care without leaving the walls of their schools, in the near future, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant and a match from the Children's Miracle Network.

At the beginning of the current school year, Monett was one of six school districts in the pilot effort funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health. School districts participating initially were Cassville, Ozark, Forsyth, Reeds Spring and Mountain Home. Three of the districts, including Monett, received a Cox staffer who will serve onsite

Under the program, the school district will have access to special equipment, including a stethoscope and an audioscope, hooked into a direct link to a nurse practitioner in Springfield. The equipment will provide a magnified view of a child's condition, including throat and ears, as well as any skin conditions. The nurse practitioner will assess the condition, targeting acute care illnesses such as lice and strep throat.

The USDA grant, matched by $90,000 from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at CoxHealth, fuels an expansion of the health system’s first efforts to bring telemedicine to local schools, which launched in early 2017.

The increase adds 12 new districts, bringing the list to =22 schools including Aurora, Ava, Eminence, Marionville, Miller, Mount Vernon, Mountain Grove, Reeds Spring, Sparta, Summersville, Verona, Willard and Winona.

“We were expecting this program to be a success when it launched a year ago, but we’ve been completely blown away by how many children this has been able to keep well in school, or get back to class faster from early treatment,” said Bridget O’Hara, Telehealth Services manager at CoxHealth. “This success makes us even more excited for the expansion, which we believe will help local kids and their families in an even greater way.”

While the program currently focuses on primary-care needs, the plan is to quickly expand to offer specialty care for conditions such as asthma, diabetes, behavioral and speech therapy. The visits, which are conducted virtually with CoxHealth-affiliated providers, are completely optional. Parents are able to participate in the visit either in person, or by phone or video using a smartphone (or other video-enabled device) without having to leave work or home.

If a diagnosis is made, prescriptions are sent to each family’s preferred pharmacy. CoxHealth partners with CMN Hospitals at CoxHealth to provide financial support for medications for those in need.