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December 20, 2023

UVA Center for Telehealth Earns Grant to Expand Healthcare Access in Southern Albemarle

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A UVA Center for Telehealth plan to partner with communities in southern Albemarle County and neighboring counties to expand access to care has earned a $15,000 grant to support its launch.

UVA Health is one of 13 recipients of the 2023 Telehealth Equity Catalyst Awards from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

“Our goal is to work together with these communities to improve awareness of and access to healthcare services through technology to improve their health and wellness outcomes,” said Nikki Reyer Facteau, UVA Health’s director of telemedicine. “Building stronger relationships with the communities we serve to collaboratively address their most pressing health needs is a key feature of UVA Health’s 10-year strategic plan.”

In-depth research – including data analysis and interviews with community members, community health workers and health equity advocates – revealed that residents in these rural communities access healthcare less often and are less aware of the health services available to them. This is due to several factors, including limited transportation options along with varying levels of access to the internet and cellphone service.

Working together with several groups – including the town of ScottsvilleCentral Virginia Health Services (CVHS)Region 10 Community Service Board (CSB)HEARRAlbemarle County, the Yancey School Community Center, Blue Ridge Health DistrictWellAWARE and MAPP2Health – the program aims to improve awareness and access by piloting innovative ways to bring care directly into the community, reducing barriers to access care on-site, and leveraging communication channels to ensure that residents know all the resources available from UVA Health and other sources. These groups came together in November for a workshop to begin discussions on how to improve the region’s access to care.

“Communities across the country face many barriers to accessing and receiving health care. While the growth of telehealth and health technology can mitigate some of those barriers and improve access, it also risks exacerbating current disparities in care. In 2021, the AAMC launched the first Telehealth Equity Catalyst (TEC) Awards to identify and highlight academic health systems that were directly addressing barriers to care via telehealth and improving care, particularly for underserved communities,” said Lisa Chew, MD, MPH, AAMC’s director of clinical innovations. “Over the past year, we’ve worked closely with these health systems to understand the challenges, the solutions, and how we can spread innovative programs. I’m excited to see the TEC community grow and look forward to continued partnership with our new cohort of the 2023 TEC Award recipients. By leveraging technology and community collaborations, academic medicine will continue be a leader in improving access and equitable care.” 

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