About Texas Tech
The Texas Tech University Health Science Center (TTUHSC) was an early pioneer in telemedicine and continues to be a program at the forefront of telemedicine technology and innovation. For over 10 years, AMD Global Telemedicine has worked closely with TTUHSC to implement telemedicine throughout the state of Texas.
Based in a rural part of Texas, Texas Tech University has quickly emerged as a leading provider of telemedicine services in the state. Launched in 1989, the program’s initial purpose was to link four campuses of the Health Sciences Center located in Lubbock, Amarillo, Odessa, and El Paso. The program’s first consult took place in June of 1990 from an Alpine, Texas hospital.
“Identifying community needs and putting technological advantages to work have allowed our telemedicine program to provide healthcare to many rural and underserved communities in the state of Texas.”
Texas Tech’s Telemedicine Technology Manager
Building of Telemedicine
Texas Tech’s Telemedicine Technology Manager, Mark Watts, has played an integral role in the success of TTU’s program. He continues to identify and implement the appropriate technology to meet the needs of the program based upon the medical challenges throughout the state. Challenges in serving TTUHSC’s 108 West Texas counties
- 98 are considered rural.
- 22 have no physician.
- 10 do not have a physician, a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner.
- 21 do not have a community or clinic-based pharmacy.
- 32 do not have a hospital.
- 75 % of the region is more than 90 miles from a comprehensive trauma hospital.
Since the program’s inception, TTUHSC’s Telemedicine consultations have steadily increased and its number of telemedicine sites has dramatically grown. . Today, the TTUHSC telemedicine program has grown to support a broad range of services in Building of Telemedicine in rural areas, correctional institutions, and assisted living communities and now consists of three core areas- Community Telemedicine, Correctional Telemedicine and Telepharmacy.
Community Telemedicine provides a critical connection of health care services to rural and underserved residents in West Texas. “Access to medical specialists is a real challenge for patients who live in rural areas of Texas. These patients typically have to drive 30 to 60 miles to reach a health care provider,” Watts said. “TTUHSC’s telemedicine program allows the patients to stay in their communities and be treated, which can prevent them from driving four hours for specialty services.”
TTUHSC’s F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health provides the telemedicine programming to 16 correctional facilities in West Texas under contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (totaling over 30,000 inmates). TTUHSC’s correctional health program is considered a model of success due to the program’s ability to reduce overall medical, transportation and personnel expenses while additionally reducing the potential security issues at medical facilities.
The Telemedicine Program at Texas Tech University also offers a number of distance learning opportunities for healthcare providers throughout the state of Texas. One class, Telemedicine 101, introduces patients and doctors to the concept of remote healthcare and encourages healthcare providers to assess whether they need to implement such services in their towns. These types of programs allow rural doctors and patients to stay abreast of new developments in the field of medicine and telemedicine.
Making use of various products including AMD’s General Exam Camera, AMD’s 400s Camera and Illumination System with exam scopes and AMD’s 3700 Telephonic Stethoscope, TTHSCH’s telemedicine program is able to provide many benefits, including:
- Providing local physicians and patients immediate contact with pediatricians and pediatric specialists.
- Keeping local physicians in the loop of their patient’s healthcare treatment where previously they could not travel with their patients to specialists.
- Lowering costs and decreasing the amount of travel needed.
- Allowing for decisions to be made quickly on whether or not there is a need to transport patients
“There is endless opportunity throughout Texas for telemedicine due to the distance barriers and remoteness of each rural county within the state. Telemedicine is the perfect solution,” commented Watts.
TTUHSC’s telemedicine program has recently expanded again with the inception of the Children’s Healthcare Access in Rural Texas (CHART) program. CHART will extend TTU’s telemedicine program to an additional 30 sites located in the rural parts of the state of Texas.
“I hope that the telemedicine program here at Texas Tech can be an example of how convenient and opportune telemedicine can be,” stated Watts. “We have been very successful in the implementation of our programs thus far. We anticipate that our continued partnership with AMD will help ensure success of our newest initiative, CHART.”