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MUSC receives grant to support telehealth network development

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The Medical University of South Carolina has received a $3.6 million grant to support the development of a national telehealth research network.

As opposed to supporting a specific clinical research study, the grant seeks to establish an easily accessible support structure around telehealth research, including tools, resources, collaboration, education and advocacy materials to anyone across the country who wants to study telehealth programs.

“We expect this network to become the preeminent source for evidence-based policy and outcomes data,” said Brook Yeager McSwain, health policy consultant for the project and manager of the S.C. Children’s Telehealth Collaborative, in a news release. “Our national and state legislators have seen the benefits of telehealth for certain populations and regions. We have to demonstrate to them that this works across the country and has the potential to dramatically impact health care delivery models.”

The five-year National Institutes of Health grant builds on work already underway as part of the Supporting Pediatric Research on Outcomes and Utilization of Telehealth project, known as Sprout. The grant will support telehealth research efforts, metric development, identification of best practices and the development of collaborative policy and advocacy materials across the country.

Sprout is a network of institutions and pediatric providers operating within the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is a sub-awardee of the grant. The other sub-awarded institutions are the University of Colorado – Children’s Hospital Colorado, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.

“This is a huge step forward in the development of safe and impactful telehealth programs across the country,” said Dr. S. David McSwain, the primary investigator for the NIH grant, in the release. “Academic research into the real impact of telehealth services is a critical component of developing and growing programs with the greatest potential to improve our health care system.”

In 2015, McSwain, who is also an MUSC Children’s Health physician, MUSC chief medical information officer and associate professor of pediatric critical care, collaborated with a small group of pediatric physicians across the country to form Sprout, which has since completed and published the nation’s first broad assessment of pediatric telehealth infrastructure across the country.

The grant is a Collaborative Innovation award through the National Center for the Advancement of Translational Science. The program will operate in collaboration with Clinical and Translational Science Award sites across the country to facilitate research development and support telehealth researchers to develop projects and find funding.

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