With role of technology increasing in healthcare sector, the popularity of telehealth is rising. Currently, 60% of millennials prefer a virtual healthcare experience over in-person care. Lack of access to services remains limited for populations in both rural as well as urban areas. The University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences (CHS) has decided to address the requirements related to telehealth by pioneering training in telehealth for future healthcare practitioners via a new graduate certificate program.
Scott Lephart, dean of the UK College of Health Sciences, says:
“Technology is driving the future of health care. This program is critically important because it allows us to train practitioners who will reach underserved regions without previous direct access to a health care professional.”
Joneen Lowman, associate professor in the communication sciences and disorders program, is at the helm of the new certificate. She said:
“The goal of our interprofessional certificate is to deliberately and systematically train health care graduate students and practicing professionals to be leaders in development, implementation and evaluation of telehealth models.”
Telehealth is defined as the delivery of health care services via electronic communication. It has been at the forefront of CHS academics since 2015. First it was imparted through Lowman’s Linking Kids to Speech Language Pathologists (LinKS) program where students studying communication sciences and disorders delivered tele-experiences in Kentucky homes and schools. Now it is expanding into a certificate program.
Victoria Schaub, a CHS alumni and member of the first LinKS cohort has recently started a telehealth program for her employer. She says:
“This is an exciting step toward optimizing the rapidly growing field of telehealth. We’re all aware of the significant impact telehealth has in diminishing the major barriers (geography and access) between medical professionals and families in need. Standardizing interprofessional education in this area only serves to strengthen and promote the increased effectiveness of telehealth as it will create connections between a collaborative team to more easily provide comprehensive care.”
The healthcare sector is under pressure to expand access to care, along with reducing the overall cost of care. The increased efficiency can be possible only when the industry uses innovation to extend the reach of all health care providers.
Rob Sprang is the director of Kentucky TeleCare, a telehealth program at the University of Kentucky that supports the clinical, educational and research missions of the academic medical center. He says:
“One of the most important activities we can undertake is to train the next generation of health care providers to be competent in the use of telehealth technology which can quickly and efficiently connect any patient with any provider. The UK College of Health Sciences has been a leader in training their own students and faculty in the use of telehealth, but the College’s new interprofessional telehealth certificate program is intended to teach evidence-based clinical practice techniques for telehealth to any health care trainee or practitioner. This program is built upon the successful model, developed over many years by the college, to train their own faculty and students to become effective telehealth practitioners.”
The Graduate Certificate in Telehealth comprises of three 3-credit courses (nine total credit hours) that are offered across three consecutive semesters beginning summer of 2020.