States struggling to bring telemedicine services to their rural areas may soon have some financial help. This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded more than $34.7 million in grants through its Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program, which selected 106 projects in 38 states and one territory to receive funding.
“Too many rural areas cannot take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by broadband for improved education and health care,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press statement. The DLT Program helps bring education, training and health care resources to rural areas.
One of the grants goes to Integris Health Inc. in Oklahoma City, which will receive $496,516 to update its high-definition video teleconferencing capacity. Integris also plans to use the money to establish links with 11 resource hospitals and physicians’ offices to provide such telemedicine services as continuing medical education for health care professionals at the hospital sites, speech therapy and instruction to students, and TeleStroke services.
Oklahoma’s no stranger to getting federal dollars in support of health IT: It is one of three states to take the lead in issuing EHR incentive payments, accompanied by Louisiana and Kentucky, which also received grants from the USDA’s DLT Program. The program awarded $160,264 to Ephraim McDowell Health Care Foundation Inc. in Kentucky, and will give $498,424 to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.