The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center has awarded more than $15 million to the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center's Department of Neurosurgery to test expansion of its telehealth infrastructure system.
U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that the funding will provide 30 hospitals statewide with remote emergency neurological and neurosurgical consultations. It will support the Access to Critical Cerebral Emergency Support Services (ACCESS) initiative and help to provide improved emergency care at lower costs to rural communities throughout New Mexico, they said. The award was one of 39 announced by the CMS Innovation Center throughout the country.
The ACCESS initiative aims to increase availability of emergency neurological care by improving the timeliness of care, decreasing avoidable inpatient admissions, and preventing unnecessary transfers between hospitals. In partnership with Net Medical Xpress Solutions, based in Albuquerque, the project will provide patients at hospitals throughout the state with 24/7 remote access to emergency neurological and neurosurgical consultations conducted by medical experts based at the UNM Medical Center in Albuquerque.
Each hospital will also receive equipment and tools to aid in neurological diagnosis and treatment on site, avoiding needless transfers to Albuquerque. Physicians, nurses, radiology technologists and administrative staff in community hospitals will also receive education and training in neurological conditions via the telehealth systems, to help support local providers in the delivery of optimum care.
The principal investigator for the project, professor and chairman of neurosurgery at UNM, Dr. Howard Yonas, will collaborate with a team of neurologists and neurosurgeons at the UNM Medical Center to provide neurologically-based telemedicine services throughout the state.
"Small hospitals provide essential emergency services in many of New Mexico's rural communities, and telehealth technologies are an effective way to expand patients' access to fast and reliable emergency care options," Sen. Udall said in a news release. "New Mexico has been a leader in telemedicine, and this project is another example of how to build a medical network statewide to support rural health care.”