Auburn University begins rural health care initiative with telehealth booths

The OnMed telehealth booth can help address rural healthcare disparities caused by lack of...
The OnMed telehealth booth can help address rural healthcare disparities caused by lack of access to clinics.(WSFA 12 News)
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 10:33 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 11:15 PM EST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Finance awarded $2 million to Auburn University to fund a rural health care initiative.

The university will introduce telehealth stations by OnMed to rural communities without access to health care facilities.

Accessing health care has been an ongoing problem for thousands in Alabama, as many rural communities do not have physicians close by.

“It’s very challenging to get a physician, a primary care physician, to come and establish a practice in rural areas for a number of different reasons,” said Hollie Cost, assistant vice president of Auburn University Outreach.

Cost said patients can seek private, affordable care with a licensed clinician who can give a diagnostic evaluation with tools that “come down from the ceiling that the clinician can use to provide a diagnosis and then a prescription if needed.”

Once approved by the Alabama Pharmacy Board, the OnMed booth also will have the ability to dispense prescription medication.

Auburn University has the primary OnMed site at the Chambers County Wellness Center, which opened in February 2023.

Four booths will be placed in rural communities that meet certain criteria.

Cost added the OnMed booths can help address rural disparities like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity through preventative care.

“We have the intent of re-mapping the health care system across rural Alabama,” Cost said.

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