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Published November 05, 2020
The University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences is the recipient of the 2020 Heywood Fund Award to enhance the foundation for research, teaching, scholarship and community engagement related to telehealth services delivery.
The project will equip UW graduate and undergraduate students with the necessary knowledge and skills to implement telehealth services in their future practices. The College of Health Sciences will deliver ongoing professional development to community-based providers for relevant and complex health care conditions.
The Heywood Fund, established by UW alumnus John Heywood in 1984 in memory of Catherine Donofrio Heywood, awards a grant every two years to provide funding for priority projects identified by the university’s seven colleges, the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, the School of Energy Resources and students.
The grant offers an opportunity for substantial one-time funding for major projects that have a significant impact on university programs. The latest grant is for $116,872.
The challenges faced by Wyoming’s health care system continue to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on evidence from research at both the local and national levels, telehealth has been identified as a key strategy in not only providing medical care during the pandemic, but also for addressing larger rural health disparities in Wyoming.
“Solutions are crucial for effectively addressing the needs of rural America," says Sandy Root-Elledge, executive director of the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND). “The UW College of Health Sciences will play a critical role in ensuring that the future health sciences workforce is prepared to meet these needs.”
The project will provide additional expertise and faculty support to build core interdisciplinary curricula; and enhance interprofessional practice experiences and learning to develop community-based research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students otherwise not currently available across college programs.
The College of Health Sciences will leverage three specific projects -- administered by WIND: Wyoming Telehealth Network, the UW ECHO networks and the Equality State Research Network for long-term impact and sustainability.
-- Wyoming Telehealth Network supports health care entities, providers and specialists to implement best practices and improve health outcomes for Wyoming residents through professional development, collaboration and leveraging of telecommunications technology.
The network currently engages with 1,700 health care providers ranging from specialties in primary care, mental health, allied health and public health nursing. The network is a collaboration with the Wyoming Department of Health, with significant partnerships that include the Wyoming Medical Society, the Wyoming Hospital Association and the Wyoming Primary Care Association -- all dedicated to improving health care services.
-- The Equality State Research Network (ESRN) is a statewide network committed to engaging in community-based research to improve the overall health of Wyoming residents. The ESRN incorporates community engagement, quality improvement and scientific inquiry.
-- The UW ECHO program relies on Zoom video-conferencing technology for providing training and coaching with interdisciplinary groups of knowledgeable individuals and professionals. This model builds statewide capacity as evidence-based practices evolve, and improves health care provider, patient and family outcomes.
“The Heywood Fund provides the College of Health Sciences with the opportunity to engage faculty and students, from multiple disciplines, to best practices in telehealth,” Root-Elledge says. “Ultimately, we anticipate enhancing health care access and outcomes throughout Wyoming.”
Each of the divisions of the College of Health Sciences, including the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, the Division of Communication Disorders, the Division of Kinesiology and Health, the Division of Social Work and the School of Pharmacy, will contribute expertise to create a more detailed curriculum involving telehealth technology.
Faculty and clinicians in the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing currently deliver direct patient care using telehealth services through the Albany County Federally Qualified Health Centers. They also lead the facilitation of the ECHO network for integrative health, mental health and primary care funded by a McMurry Foundation grant. In addition to contributing the curriculum and practicum telehealth competencies, faculty and clinicians will integrate the materials into future core program curricula.
For the past three years, graduate clinical experiences through the Speech and Hearing Clinic have included telehealth experiences for each student. This model, from the Division of Communication Disorders, will be translated for other divisions in the college through the award.
The Division of Kinesiology and Health staff will contribute their expertise in kinesiology, health, wellness, physical education, rehabilitation, chronic disease risk screening, and in education on physical and occupational discipline-specific telehealth education on direct clinical and applied service.
The ethics of provision of services to vulnerable populations, both consumers of telehealth and providers, is among the goals of the Division of Social Work. The faculty contributes to competency development and student engagement in the research, education and training activities that are included in the proposal.
The School of Pharmacy houses the Wyoming Living Laboratory that brings expertise in technology innovation and direct services improvement. Faculty have experience in telehealth service delivery, curriculum development and interprofessional education, with faculty leading a collegewide effort for interprofessional education.
For more information about the award, call Betsy Bress, WIND senior project coordinator, at (307) 766-2561 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.