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Rutgers Is Increasing Health Care Access Through Telemedicine

Mobile Medicine 2New Brunswick, NJ, July 12, 2016 ―  Rutgers School of Nursing and Rutgers Business School have teamed up to pilot the use of telemedicine technology to provide health care for underserved populations in Greater Newark.

The pilot research study will employ a system developed by SmartCareDoc, a division of Telemed Ventures, to connect providers and patients virtually using internet-connected mobile devices.

“Telemedicine is rapidly becoming an accepted part of the health care delivery system,” said Ann Bagchi, a registered nurse and instructor at the School of Nursing who is a key driver of the pilot study.  “When the technology is used appropriately, it has a unique capacity to improve access, lower costs and improve health care outcomes.”

SmartCareDoc allows health professionals to remotely interact with and examine patients. Portable devices that plug into a laptop, tablet or mobile phone allow the provider to listen to a patient’s heartbeat; check a patient’s temperature, blood pressure or pulse rate; or obtain an electrocardiogram reading in real-time.

Bagchi will be bringing the telemedicine technology to 10 patients residing in Newark public housing developments where access to health care has been limited. A nurse practitioner will monitor and interact with the patients remotely from the School of Nursing’s community health center.

The pilot is part of a joint grant between Rutgers Business School and Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration awarded by Rutgers University-Newark’s Chancellor’s Seed Grant program to promote high-impact, publicly engaged, collaborative scholarship in Newark.

Benjamin Melamed, a professor of supply chain management at Rutgers Business School and the principal investigator of the project, will be assessing the effectiveness of the results. “Telemedicine has the potential for mitigating the health care crisis by improving patient access and substantially reducing costs,” he said.

“Rutgers Business School is committed to using our expertise to make a positive social impact in the Newark community – a key strategic mission articulated by Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Cantor,” said Lei Lei, dean of Rutgers Business School. “Together with Rutgers School of Nursing, we can help solve real-world problems and find better ways of doing things,” she said.

According to William Holzemer, dean and professor at Rutgers School of Nursing, “Telemedicine technology could be a real asset to our ability to provide high-quality, accessible primary care through our school’s federally qualified health center serving Newark communities.  We are excited about the possibilities this technology holds for delivery of care.”

Raj Shah, CEO and founder of SmartCareDoc, sees the project with Rutgers in Newark as a great opportunity.

“Working on this project with Rutgers in Newark is a great opportunity to collaborate with a highly respected research institution to expand knowledge and understanding about telemedicine use with various populations,” Shah said.  “This pilot will bring telemedicine to individuals who could benefit from this innovation, but who have likely never heard of its accessibility. We are pleased to provide this public service to the community.”