UNM Expanding Telehealth Program

Oct 9, 2014

Dr. Howard Yonas of the UNM School of Medicine's Neurosurgery Department is chief investigator for the ACCESS program.
Credit John Arnold, UNM Health Sciences Center

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center has received more than $15 million in federal money to expand a statewide telehealth program. The program aims to provide rural hospital patients with emergency video consultations.

The funding, awarded through the Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center, will pay for a network of high definition cameras and AV conferencing equipment for emergency rooms throughout the state. 

Called the ACCESS program, this telehealth infrastructure will allow patients in rural areas to interact with neurologists in Albuquerque in real time — something that can be crucial for quickly identifying and diagnosing strokes, says UNM Department of Neurosurgery Chair Howard Yonas in this video from UNMHSC.

“In the world of neurology it’s really important to see the patient, to be able to look at the patient’s eyes and the reaction of the pupils. These are the things that you really need to know to be able to make a decision of whether a person is having a stroke,” Yonas explains.

The grant hopes to save money by reducing expensive medical transports to urban medical centers. UNM says so far 30 New Mexico hospitals have signed up for the program.