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South Carolina AHEC Supports Telehealth Initiatives in the State

Diane Mathews and Sarah Smith present at the Telehealth Summit
The Fifth Annual South Carolina Telehealth Summit was held in Columbia in March and members of the South Carolina AHEC System joined colleagues and providers from across the state to further the dialogue and implementation on telehealth initiatives.

Lowcountry AHEC Center Director Diane Mathews and Sarah Smith, MAT, RD, LD, CDE, presented on their telehealth diabetes self-management training series. In April of 2016, the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence, Lowcountry AHEC and Palmetto Care Connections began a collaboration to provide diabetes self-management education/training via telehealth to rural areas of South Carolina.  This initiative expands the reach of diabetes education to those in the state unable to travel to receive the education. The series of five classes is taught by Sarah Smith, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. During the first eight months of the classes, 82 participants were referred by physicians and community members. In 2017, 59 referrals have been made in the first four months.  If the referrals continue at the current rate, there should be 177 referrals for 2017. The rate of graduation for the distance sites in Allendale and Barnwell counties is comparable to the graduation rate of the originating site in Colleton County.  While the graduation rates were slightly lower than the first year, they continue to meet program expectations. In 2017, 52% of those attending classes have graduated (67% at originating site vs 34% at distance sites). 

South Carolina AHEC Office for Telehealth Education (OFTE) Director Dr. Ragan DuBoose-Morris and Program Manager Stan Sulkowski presented at a pre-conference workshop with MUSC Director of Prehospital Medicine/Medical Director of Charleston County EMS Dr. David French entitled, Tele Simulation: Improving Clinical Decision Making through Statewide Education, which highlighted OFTE’s efforts with EMS simulation training. The presentation discussed how telehealth outreach projects led by MUSC and South Carolina AHEC connect community providers with simulation training focused on clinical decision making processes.  Using telehealth equipment and programmable mannequins co-located within a virtual training laboratory, local paramedics are being trained to better address airway management cases while remaining in their home communities.  Outcomes show increased confidence in managing these cases and decreased decision response times through the progression of the training scenarios.  Applications for this training extend to community providers and facilities tasked with coordinating care and managing the health of rural populations. 

Additionally, Dr. DuBose-Morris presented with Pee Dee AHEC Center Director Gail Weaver and McLeod Health Director of Telehealth Matt Reich on Dialing into Continuing Professional Development across Borders. The presentation focused on initiatives that South Carolina AHEC and its partners implement using distance education and telehealth technologies to offer healthcare professionals cutting edge training, regardless of where they live and work.

Finally, Lowcountry AHEC provided continuing education credits for the summit. Members of the Office for Telehealth Education team assisted with logistics and administration throughout the summit. 

More information about the summit is available at http://palmettocareconnections.org/2017-annual-summit/.

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