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Grants Offered to Spur Telehealth Research, Collaboration in Arkansas

Telehealth uses two-way interactive video and imaging devices to deliver specialized medical services.
LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) - The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Translational Research Institute and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (UAF) are offering pilot grants to study the state’s nationally leading telehealth programs, a relatively new practice that allows doctors to reach patients in distant locations. 

The one-year Translational Research Institute Pilot Research Awards will fund as many as four telehealth projects at up to $15,000, with an additional $5,000 available to projects that involve a UAF collaborator.  

Telehealth uses two-way interactive video and imaging devices to deliver specialized medical services, from emergency stroke treatment to the care of premature infants. Arkansas ranks second nationally in telehealth availability, and it has the lowest ratio of rural residents to telehealth sites, according to the National Telehealth Resource Centers Report. 

UAMS has more than 40 pioneering clinical telehealth programs that utilize the state’s infrastructure, but many of the programs lack the data needed to promote broader adoption, said Laura James, M.D., director of the UAMS Translational Research Institute.  

“We’re excited to offer this targeted pilot program because we believe Arkansas has the capacity to develop rigorously tested, novel models of health care delivery through telehealth,” James said. “We hope that these pilot grants will become the catalyst for larger, multi-institutional studies.”  

The institutions’ leaders said the collaborative funding initiative is designed to foster research between physicians engaged in telehealth programs and researchers.  

“We expect to see research that tests the clinical outcomes, cost effectiveness and comparative effectiveness of these programs so that they can be more broadly adopted to meet the health care needs of Arkansans,” said Cynthia L. Sagers, Ph.D., associate vice provost for Research and Economic Development at UAF. “Collaborations between UAMS and UAF enhance our research capacity, our reputation and our service to the state.” 

Every county in Arkansas has at least one telehealth site and most counties have several. All UAMS Regional Centers, most of the state’s hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and county health departments are linked through telehealth. Arkansas has 945 telehealth endpoints, 421 anchor health care institutions, and 495 interactive video units.  

The UAMS Translational Research Institute’s mission is to help accelerate research that will improve the health and health care of people in Arkansas and across the country. TRI is one of 62 recipients of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA).
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