Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences President Dr. John Fernandes announced the receipt of two federal grants totaling $1.8 million for the Center for Rural Health to create an electronic health record network in northeastern Oklahoma and a telemedicine health care network in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
The Health Resources and Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $1.5 million to the OSU Center for Rural Health for the creation of the Northeastern Oklahoma Critical Access Hospital Electronic Health Record Network.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program awarded $246,410 for the creation of a rural telemedicine health care network in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
The creation of the Northeastern Oklahoma Critical Access Hospital Electronic Health Record Network will allow hospitals and physician clinics located in Northeastern Oklahoma to share patient records electronically making patient clinical information easily accessible to health care providers. Patients can move back and forth between private physicians and hospitals for treatments and follow-up and their information is easily and instantly transferred between providers. The result is more effective and efficient health care delivery that will lead to improved safety and quality of care for patients.
Partnering health care providers participating in the Northeastern Oklahoma Critical Access Hospital Electronic Health Record Network include the Oklahoma State University Medical Center, Cleveland Area Hospital, Drumright Regional Hospital, Holdenville General Hospital and the private practice physicians who staff at each hospital.
The establishment of a rural telemedicine health care in the Oklahoma Panhandle funded by the USDA grant will specifically allow smaller hospitals in the Panhandle to provide specialty care and radiology services for patients by connecting to larger hospitals, including the largest hospital in the Panhandle, Memorial Hospital, located in Guymon. In addition to the $246,410 federal grant, OSU Center for Health Sciences is contributing an additional $246,412 in funding towards this project.
Smaller hospitals in Cimarron, Beaver and Harper counties do not have specialty physicians and radiological services are conducted by an off-site radiologist. This grant will purchase equipment for these hospitals that will significantly upgrade their current radiography equipment and allow them to take much higher quality, digital images. In addition, when patients located in Cimarron, Beaver and Harper counties require specialty care, they are usually referred to the larger Memorial Hospital in Guymon or to out-of-state to hospitals in Amarillo, TX. With the cardiology and pulmonology telemedicine equipment, patients would be able to receive consultation for these specialty services in a fraction of the time and without having to travel more than an hour to receive services.
Telemedicine equipment will also be installed in school systems in Felt in Cimarron County and Balko in Beaver County linking them to the telemedicine network. There are no physicians in these two towns, so patients must travel thirty minutes or more to see a physician. Staff at these schools will be able to use the telemedicine network to access primary care and specialty care physicians at the hospitals in their respective counties for consultation with their students.
The USDA grant and OSU Center for Health Sciences’ matching funds will pay for computer and medical equipment necessary to create the telemedicine network. OSU Center for Health Sciences will cover the cost of equipment installation, training and technical assistance.