UC Davis to establish California Telehealth Resource Center in Sacramento
Posted Jan. 20, 2010
UC Davis physicians, nurses and administrative leaders gathered recently to mark the official groundbreaking for the new California Telehealth Resource Center on the grounds of the university’s Sacramento campus. The four-story, $36 million building is designed to enhance and complement UC Davis’ long history and wide range of expertise in the field of telehealth, which is the use of high-speed telecommunications for medical consultations, distance education, critical care and emergency services, as well as health-care training.
The event, which included a traditional shovel ceremony at the site of construction, took place on Jan. 15, 2010, at the UC Davis Education Building.
Telehealth technologies have the promise of transforming and improving health care, especially in communities and regions that are far from large, urbanized areas with a full range of health-care services and medical specialists. The innovative use of telecommunications tools in the delivery of clinical services can increase access to health care and help advance health, especially for areas of California where physician shortages are a persistent problem.
"The use of telemedicine can improve quality of care and help bridge the barriers of time and distance that many communities currently face."
— Claire Pomeroy
“The California Telehealth Resource Center, located in the state’s capital city, is the ideal focal point for training the next generation of physicians, nurses and other health-care professionals to effectively use innovative technologies to improve patient care,” said Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis. “The use of telemedicine can improve quality of care and help bridge the barriers of time and distance that many communities currently face.”
Telehealth offers the potential of improving quality of care by enabling clinicians at one location to monitor, consult and even care for patients in distant locations. The new, 52,000 square-foot facility in Sacramento is being financed through Proposition 1D funding, which California voters approved in 2006. The building will include high-tech classrooms as part of a telemedicine learning center, an entire floor devoted to medical simulation training, as well as customized telemedicine consultation rooms, where physicians will meet with other physicians and patients to discuss medical cases via secure, high-speed videoconferencing connections.
"The California Telehealth Resource Center will connect these students with our school, enabling them to meet in a virtual classroom with their instructors and maintain that continuity of curriculum and learning from distant locations."
— Tom Nesbitt
“We will soon have nearly 50 medical students in our Rural-PRIME program who will be training at distant clinics and hospitals in preparation for possible careers in rural medicine,” said Thomas Nesbitt, associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances and the founder of the university’s telehealth programs in the early 1990s. “The California Telehealth Resource Center will connect these students with our school, enabling them to meet in a virtual classroom with their instructors and maintain that continuity of curriculum and learning from distant locations.”
Rural-PRIME is one of five specialized curricula within the UC medical school system. It provides a range of education, including training in public-health issues and the use of leading-edge medical technologies such as telemedicine. The program has training sites in rural areas of the Central Valley, foothill region and northern reaches of the state.
Students remain in contact with their School of Medicine instructors in Sacramento via high-speed videoconferencing connections that will be built into the Telehealth Resource Center.
UC Davis Center for Health and Technology
The Center for Health and Technology is a recognized leader for its innovative use of the latest in telecommunications technology to improve the delivery of health care. The center pioneered the use of telehealth and e-health programs to enable patients from throughout California to receive direct clinical and specialty care without leaving their own communities.
The center also encompasses well-established programs in distance education and medical informatics, as well as a telemedicine learning center. These programs provide specialty services throughout California to rural hospitals and clinics, offering easy access to continuing medical and nursing education for clinicians, administrators and other health-care providers.
More than 500 courses are available via interactive video-conferencing, interactive webcasting and on-demand video. The center also plays an important role in use of high-tech communications for emergency preparedness. For more information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cht.
UC Davis Health System’s telehealth program began in 1992 as a fetal monitoring project, connecting a small rural hospital in Colusa County with UC Davis Medical Center specialists in Sacramento. With that connection, expectant mothers, many of whom could not easily travel for specialty care because of the expense and time, could remain in their hometown and still receive the highest level of medical expertise. If a patient’s condition is time-sensitive, telemedicine can be the key to quickly accessing a specialist, who can immediately assist in a diagnosis and provide the best possible treatment plan.
Today, UC Davis offers a variety of telehealth programs that deliver direct clinical and specialty care to residents throughout the state. It also offers numerous telehealth training and educational programs for medical professionals. The university’s telemedicine program, for example, has conducted more than 22,000 video-based consultations at more than 100 clinics and hospital sites throughout California and neighboring states, including Native American health clinics, correctional facilities, county health offices and regional centers that serve the developmentally disabled. It now offers more than 21 medical specialties via telemedicine, ranging from infectious disease and pediatric critical care to psychiatry and dermatology.
"Not only are students at UC Davis training for rural medicine in a way far different from their predecessors,” added Nesbitt, “but the new California Telehealth Resource Center will help enhance an overall emphasis on team medical practice, advanced information and telecommunication technologies, and evidence-based medicine. It will be a facility that truly helps us address some of the most challenging health-care issues in the state."
Construction of the new building is expected to be completed in the fall of 2011.