Tapping Tech to Fill Rural Health Care Gaps

Posted: Updated:
(Image courtesy of Elwood Community School Corp.) (Image courtesy of Elwood Community School Corp.)
ELWOOD -

A first-of-its-kind program designed to boost the quality and availability of health care in rural Indiana schools will launch next month. The Linton-based Indiana Rural Health Association will open a pilot, school-based telehealth clinic in Elwood Community Schools. The next step will be implementing the program in five more districts, eventually blanketing the state. Over time, Indiana Rural School Clinic Network Program Manager Jenni Hill says the model could even be applied outside school walls and brought into the community.

She says the need is great. "There are several different (telehealth) programs out there for the adults, but nothing for children so far and especially nothing coming to them at the school level." She says Indiana trails other states in this regard, with several states launching on-site telehealth clinics in schools years ago. She says the lessons and data learned from those programs gives her confidence that it will make a difference.

The program works like this: children who feel ill at school visit the school's health professional. If the determination is made that the student needs to see a doctor, a virtual visit can be set up on-site and parents are contacted to see if they wish to join in. Hill says the school's health aid will then serve as the doctor's "hands" during the visit, operating the various pieces of diagnostic equipment for the children. The readings will be collected, then analyzed by the doctor without the need to leave school grounds. "Now that school nurse has this extra support system of a provider that they can connect with virtually to ensure that the child can get diagnosed if it's beyond their scope of service." She says the program won't replace the job of a school nurse or health aid, but instead, provide the next level of care, if needed.

Elwood's telehealth clinic will launch September 6 and the network plans to roll out others at school systems in Parke, Vermillion and Southwest Jefferson counties, as well as Austin and Crothersville schools.

Hill says some of the programs primary goals include decreasing chronic disease rates, improving attendance, improving behavioral health indicators and decreasing emergency room visits for acute care throughout the state.

Indiana Rural Health Association Executive Director Don Kelso says "delivering high-quality healthcare to our rural school children represents a pressing need across Indiana. There are about 15 true school-based health clinics in Indiana, and this will be the first with telehealth capacity with physician engagement directly incorporated into school clinics. Indiana presently lags behind other states who allocate funding specifically for school-based health clinics. IRHA's goal is to change that, and we will take initial steps to achieve this through the implementation of IRSCN and the utilization of telehealth technology."

  • Perspectives

    • Market Volatility - Fodder for Financial Fears

      Fact: The value of the stock market goes up and down.  It’s called “market volatility”.  How concerned should you be with a thousand point change in the index? Since your reaction can impact your personal portfolio, it’s most important that you have a good perspective. Significant price movements in the stock market grabbed headlines and captivated media pundits throughout 2018. The last week of the year the market experienced large price swings...

    More

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Silberline Closing Decatur Facility

      Pennsylvania-based Silberline Manufacturing Co. is detailing plans to close its facility in Adams County. In a notice to the state, the company says the closure will result in the layoffs of 50 employees.

    • Airport Board Approves New Concessions Vendors

      The Indianapolis Airport Authority Board has approved new contracts for several retail and services vendors at Indianapolis International Airport. The contracts are the first of several approvals that are expected as part of the airport's Concessions Refresh initiative, which aims to increase the local focus among vendors. Marsha Stone, senior director of commercial enterprise at the airport, says the effort will be one of the most impactful public-facing projects that...

    • Two Indiana Banks on Forbes Best List

      Forbes has ranked the best banks in the country and Indiana has placed two on the list. First Merchants Bank finished 2nd, and Old National Bancorp came in at 97. The metrics used by the publication include tangible common equity, return on average assets, net interest margin,  efficiency ratio and net charge-offs as a percentage of total loans. 

    • Jones to Retire as Old National CEO

      Evansville-based Old National Bancorp has announced Chief Executive Officer Bob Jones will retire in May, after 14 years with the bank. Chief Financial Officer Jim Ryan, who has been with Old National since 2000, will succeed Jones. Jones will continue to serve as Old National's chairman of the board through January 2020.

    • 'Unique' Coworking Space Opens in Greenfield

      A new coworking space in Hancock County aims to fill an underserved need in east central Indiana. Idea Co-op features a traditional indoor coworking area, along with 36 acres of outdoor space that can be used by members. The coworking space is operated by Greenfield-based NineStar Connect and director of business and economic development Jill Snyder says the outdoor aspect makes it a unique concept for the region.