The telehealth network enables local health care providers in rural Missouri to provide quality specialty care by communicating in real time with specialists through videoconferencing
Noting during his opening remarks that "no longer is a 'town doc' a staple" in rural communities, Holden explained the importance of telehealth technology for rural communities.
"When I became governor, I believed it was important that if people couldn't get to a doctor's office, we brought the doctor's office to them," Holden said. "Today we are able to achieve that goal through the miracle of technology."
With the telehealth technology available, outstate doctors have specialists at their disposal, Holden said, "so that no family and no child is left behind in getting quality healthcare in the state of Missouri."
The Missouri Telehealth Resource Center was established at the MU School of Medicine in 2001 through a state appropriation of Missouri's tobacco settlement revenue. To date, more than 30,000 exams have been conducted via interactive video encounters and teleradiology.
The telehealth site in Sikeston came on line in December along with sites in New Madrid, Lilbourn, Bernie, Kennett and Portageville. In addition to these six southeast Missouri communities, the telehealth network also includes sites in Unionville, Memphis, Kirksville, Brookfield, Macon, St. Joseph, Carrollton, Keytesville, Moberly, Marshall, Fayette, Columbia, Sedalia, Boonville, Fulton, Versailles, Richland, California, Jefferson City, Owensville, Fort Leonard Wood, Rolla and Mount Vernon.
Clinical specialities include radiology, endocrinology, child health, psychiatry, behavioral health, dermatology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, adolescent medicine, cardiology, neurology and surgical follow-up.
"Miles no longer matter any more when a patient needs immediate or specialized medical treatment," Holden said.
Holden called for the creation of the telehealth network in his first State of the State Address and now, as chair of the Southern Governors' Association of Telehealth Taskforce, is leading the effort to use telehealth networks within the sixteen states for disaster preparedness and response.