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Delaware's only certification program for telehealth grows with expanding use statewide

Anne Hoffman/Delaware Public Media

The University of Delaware’s telemedicine program is continuing to equip more First State medical providers with the ability to visit patients remotely on a screen.

UD offers the only class for advanced telemedicine certification in the state. It launched three years ago and this year is offered during the summer semester for the first time.  Class started this week and officials say it is full.

Dept. of Health and Social Services Director of Telehealth Planning and Development Carolyn Morris is the program’s instructor. She says her students represent the full range of health care providers in Delaware.

“It’s about 34%-35% non-clinical,” said Morris. “So some administrators and practice managers have taken it, even a person who was interested in developing a mobile health app—he was a coder.”

Lisa Nichols took the class before starting her job as senior telehealth coordinator at Nemours about a year ago. She says the pediatric hospital has increased its use of telemedicine by 85% since she started.

“Any specialist they can offer telehealth for surgical consultation, post-operative visit or just standard follow up care, and they we also have urgent 24-7 online care,” said Nichols.

Family Nurse Practitioner Susan Conaty-Buck teaches other nurse practitioners and MBA students at UD. She was able to add telemedicine to her curriculum after taking Morris’s course. She also leads a national health care informatics and telehealth group for the American Nurse Practitioners Association

“In places where there is a deficit of care, [telemedicine] allows patients who don’t have access to actually receive comparable care,” said Morris.

Conaty-Buck says the Nurse Managed Primary Care Center on UD’s STAR campus is conducting a study connecting Parkinson’s patients with medical specialists using telehealth.

Delaware lawmakers passed legislation in 2015 to expand the use of telemedicine in the state.

And the Pew Charitable Trusts recently recommended Delaware remove waivers necessary to use telehealth to prescribe addiction medication to patients with substance abuse disorder.

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