Georgia CTSA Investigators Awarded $866K from USDA for Telemedicine in Rural Georgia

Man talking to doctor via laptop

Henry N. Young, PhD, Kroger Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy, and Co-Director of Georgia CTSA Integrating Special Populations (ISP) program and Tiffany R. Washington, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, and ISP Co-Investigator are among the researchers at UGA who received over $866K from the USDA and $130K in matching funds to improve the management of chronic health conditions through telemedicine in underserved communities. Georgia CTSA’s Integrating Special Populations program aims to further advance health equity by efficiently and inclusively extending research testing and discovery to all populations in Georgia, with emphasis on rural health concerns.

The overall goal of this project is to overcome access to care disparities and improve the management of chronic conditions in underserved rural populations. To accomplish this goal, telecommunications linkages (i.e., telemedicine) will be used to leverage resources at UGA to address the management of pharmacotherapy treatment for and patients’ self‐management of chronic medical conditions in rural communities. Telemedicine can provide instrumental opportunities for the provision of health care for low income rural residents with chronic conditions. Telemedicine involves an interactive and proactive management approach consisting of ongoing partnerships between patients and professionals supported by information and communication technology that focuses on clinical outcomes and patient specific goals.

A pharmacist telemanagement service will be implemented to improve chronic condition medication management (College of Pharmacy), a prescription drug abuse health communication campaign (College of Pharmacy), and the Chronic Disease Self‐Management Program (CDSMP) (School of Social Work) by utilizing the telecommunications system developed through this grant program. A hub‐and‐spoke model will be used in this project, with UGA serving as the main campus or hub, and the churches serving as the satellite campuses or spokes in rural communities. Although the main objective is to address chronic health conditions in general, faith‐based leaders have emphasized that diabetes affects everyone in the community, either themselves or a family member. And thus, diabetes was immediately identified and selected as the primary target condition.

The project will help rural community members address the challenges of managing chronic medical conditions. The project will provide rural community members linkages to resources (e.g., health professionals, health programming, health communication campaigns) that will help overcome access and transportation barriers. In addition, this project has the potential to serve additional purposes and create added value in the rural communities. The telecommunication system can be used to gain access to other academic health related resources.

UGA is a partner in the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance (Georgia CTSA). The Georgia CTSA is an interdisciplinary, inter‐institutional collaboration involving Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia. This collaboration is funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health's Clinical and Translational Science Awards. The vision for CTSA Awards is to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, train the next generation of clinical investigators, and engage communities in clinical research efforts. This project could be used to translate clinical innovations to rural communities to improve the health and overall well‐being of rural residents.

For more information, read the press release on the USDA website. 

View Press Release