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Published April 03, 2020
The University of Wyoming’s Wyoming Telehealth Network (WyTN) is helping health care providers virtually connect with patients to prevent the spread of and assist in the diagnosis of the COVID-19 virus.
The network is administered by the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND), a unit of the College of Health Sciences, in partnership with the Wyoming Department of Health.
The WyTN provides ongoing training and support in telehealth best practices for Wyoming health care professionals, including the process of enrolling providers in the telehealth network; issuing secure Zoom licenses; and providing technical support throughout the process. Recently, telehealth also has proven to be a critical component in allowing health care providers to virtually meet with patients, allowing for diagnosis and treatment options without the risk of exposure to the virus.
Since the beginning of March, the number of requests for telehealth licenses in Wyoming has increased significantly. Previously, the WyTN enrolled, on average, 26 health care providers per month. In March, 1,223 Wyoming providers were enrolled, primarily in the areas of primary care, mental health, pediatrics, emergency medicine, physical therapy and speech therapy. In addition, the traffic to the WyTN website increased nearly 750 percent between February and March.
“The rapid implementation of telehealth throughout the state is critical for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 during the quarantine,” says Betsy Bress, project coordinator with WIND.
An important component of the WyTN access to evidence-based practices is online resources and monthly webinars for health care providers, providing support and training on the use of telehealth in a medical practice. The March 25 webinar quickly adapted to the rapidly changing health care situation -- providing a session on setting up a telehealth clinic facilitated by Albany Community Health Clinic clinicians and UW College of Health Sciences faculty, with over 125 providers from throughout Wyoming in attendance. In addition, WIND has provided relevant support and information to health care providers, including Zoom open lab hours twice a week to provide an opportunity for questions and training.
“Telehealth will continue to be a critical part of the future of health care in Wyoming after this crisis, and the WyTN will grow to meet the needs of our state by providing evidence-based professional development, innovative application of technology, technical assistance and support for statewide collaboration,” Bress says.
More information on the Wyoming Telehealth Network is available at wyomingtelehealth.org.