In July 2015, the Wyoming Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health (ORH), through the Wyoming Telehealth Network (WyTN), began offering telehealth technical assistance grants with the goal of connecting rural Wyoming facilities to telehealth services. Grantees represent public health nursing, physical rehabilitation, behavioral health centers, private practice physicians, community health centers, prevention programs, rural health clinics, and hospitals.
ORH currently contracts with Ptolemy Data Systems to work directly with sites to assure connectivity. Instead of giving funds directly to the grantees, ORH compensates Ptolemy for each successful connection.
“The technology available in healthcare today has vastly improved the ability for providers to deliver critical care in an expedient and precise manner”, said Jesus Rios, Chief Operating Officer at Ptolemy Data Services. “It is critical that telehealth options be available to all healthcare providers – but especially those serving rural populations. The WyTN has provided exceptional access to providers and patients in rural communities.”
In less than a year, 18 grants have been awarded throughout the state and the project continues to grow. Casper Children’s Center (CCC) in Casper, WY, was one of the first grantees. The mission of CCC is to advance and improve child health in Wyoming, and the WyTN has been an important component in furthering this goal.
“CCC was fortunate to receive support to join the WyTN,” said Dr. Shelley Springer, CCC neonatologist. “Having telehealth available has allowed CCC to offer pediatric consultation services to providers in rural Wyoming who may desire pediatric consultative support, and to extend the reach of Wyoming’s only board certified neonatologist to providers around the state who offer obstetric/neonatal services.”
Beginning July 2016, the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND), College of Health Sciences at the University of Wyoming will assume responsibility for coordinating the WyTN. WIND will assist providers as they transition from the traditional bridge systems to cloud-based, videoconferencing platforms. This transition will allow for increased flexibility of telehealth service to support providers and patients throughout Wyoming. WIND will create a website, develop educational materials, and provide monthly videoconference learning sessions to assist providers and professionals in developing and implementing best practices in telehealth. WIND will also track statewide usage of the network in order to target future outreach and growth, and to increase access to quality health care. WIND is excited about the opportunity to coordinate the WyTN and work with patients and providers across Wyoming.
The WyTN is supported by Wyoming state general funds. To learn more about the WyTN, please contact Sharla Allen, Wyoming ORH Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does your SORH have a “Promising Practice”? We’re interested in the innovative, effective and valuable work that SORHs are doing. Contact Ashley Muninger at email@example.com to set up a short email or phone interview in which you can tell your story.