Wyoming Migrates Telehealth Connectivity into the Cloud
As the contract for telehealth connectivity was drawing close, the State of Wyoming had to make some decisions. Years earlier the State bought a telehealth bridge, and it was rapidly approaching its end of life, which necessitated a decision of whether to replace it or migrate telehealth connectivity into the cloud.
Given the high costs of bridges and associated equipment, the Wyoming Department of Health decided to explore web-based connectivity. Wyoming through the University of Wyoming, already had a contract with Zoom for its ECHO project superhub. As Dr. James Bush and Troy Babbitt, as the chairs of the Wyoming Telehealth Consortium, looked at the superhub’s capabilities they thought they had found a perfect solution.
Housed at the University’s Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND) was staff that were experienced at Zoom support and could provide technical support. WIND was already hosting many ECHO calls around the state. Zoom under this contract is HIPAA compatible and can be run off any platform with internet connection, including Phones and Pads, making telehealth much more portable and far easier for any provider. “All one has to do is click on the link in the invitation and you are connected” said Dr. Bush. “Medicaid is a strong believer that telehealth is necessary for Wyoming, and we wanted to make it easy for busy clinicians to connect from any location.” Medicaid also recently approved that telehealth visits can even originate from a patient’s home, making it far easier for them to do follow up visits with their physician, who can often be hours distant. By eliminating ownership of videoconference bridging equipment, Wyoming can commit its resources entirely to patient care rather than infrastructure, and updates can occur at any time.
To help physicians make the transition to telehealth, technical assistance grants are available through the Wyoming Department of Health Office of Rural Health. An application is available on the Telehealth Consortium’s webpage at uwyo.edu/wind/wytn. When the application is filled out the staff at WIND reaches out to the provider to help identify which other clinics or hospitals they need to be linked to and to help reach out to those other clinics to help with initial setup and training.
The Wyoming Cleft Palate Clinic is planning to use this technology so that the oral surgeons can evaluate newborns from anywhere in the State at the moment they are born, often saving unnecessary transfers, and helping local providers provide optimum care for their patients. “Using Zoom, we are anticipating consolidation of all telehealth services into one center housed at WIND, that can support telehealth between physicians and patients throughout the region, physicians and hospitals, and also training through ECHO clinics” said Dr. Bush, “We already use telehealth extensively with the medical school in Seattle to provide child psychiatry support, we hope to expand this eventually to every specialty.”
This website is supported by grant number G22RH31114 from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services.