UAB receives $1M Federal grant for telehealth services

Telehealth call with Dr. Carol Smith of Birmingham Allergy & Asthma. Photo via Bham Now

In the age of social distancing, being able to speak with a doctor from the comfort of your own home is a luxury we can all use. That’s why the Federal Communications Commission has awarded UAB with a $1 million grant to help improve their telehealth capabilities. Here’s how that money will be used.

What is Telehealth?

COVID-19 command center at UAB
Telehealth allows patients to seek treatment with their doctor over the phone. Photo via UAB Medicine on Facebook

A little over a year ago, I came back from an overseas trip with a sickness that had me stuck in bed, too nauseous to get in a car to see the doctor. Luckily, a friend told me about a local telehealth service. I hopped on a quick call with a doctor who prescribed some medications, which my friend was able to pick up. All in all, it was one of the easiest medical visits I’ve ever had.

In the age of COVID-19, scheduling an in-person visit to the doctor’s office is daunting. That’s why telehealth is more important now than ever—it allows doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners to virtually communicate with their patients.

Telehealth is just like going to doctor—but from the comfort of your own home. Depending on which service you use, you can consult with a doctor over the phone or in a virtual conference. Either way, telehealth allows you to have a helpful conversation with a doctor in real time.

$1M in Federal Funding

UAB takes great care to ensure all facilities are sanitary and safe. Photo via UAB Medicine on Facebook

The funding comes from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program—a $200 million fund appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. During this round of funding, UAB was one of 70 programs awarded funding. The University of Alabama at Birmingham received $1 million—the maximum amount given during this funding period.

What does this mean for UAB?

Photo via UAB Medicine on Facebook

According to UAB, the funding will allow the Medical division to purchase additional iPads, webcams and remote patient monitoring systems. Since COVID-19, UAB’s telehealth system has seen an increase in usage, these new resources will help UAB meet that demand.

Furthermore, UAB will add additional telehealth units to the emergency department, intensive care units, palliative care units and a maternal emergency unit. These units will help screen incoming patients beforehand, reducing potential exposure for both health care providers and their patients.

Want to use UAB Telehealth?

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A medical professional recording data at UAB. Photo via Lexi Coon, property of University of Alabama at Birmingham

If you’d like to set up an online telehealth session, check out UAB eMedicine. The service offers access to the expertise of UAB clinicians 24/7. Plus, UAB has created a screening questionnaire for COVID-19 based on CDC guidelines to help determine the right care for you.

Have you used telehealth services? What was your experience like? Tag us @bhmanow and let us know!

  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.