The Indian Health Service ((HS) www.ihs.gov and the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) www.chop.edu just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore creating a pediatric specialty consultation service. The service would use telehealth to help American Indian and Alaska Native children served by IHS.
As the first step IHS and CHOP would develop a comprehensive pediatric telemedicine plan for communities in the IHS Navajo, Phoenix, Tucson, and Albuquerque areas. The goal is to provide a model for physician-to-physician consultation services.
CHOP doctors will provide advice to IHS healthcare providers to diagnose challenging cases and then determine a course of treatment. Telehealth services will also include providing for clinical appointments as well as provide training. In some cases, specialty care furnished via telehealth will be supplemented by a nurse or assistant who is physically in the room with the patient.
In addition, the MOU calls for the determination of the critical clinical operational and technological infrastructure required to provide telehealth services. Also, the plan is to develop business plans for broader deployment of telehealth and at that time, identify potential funding streams.
To provide even more telemedicine, in September, IHS announced that a new contract for $6.8 million was awarded to Avera Health www.avers.org to provide telemedicine services to all 19 Great Plains Area service units to serve about 130,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives.