UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation Receives $982,500 Grant from Federal Communications Commission

By Karmen Robinson

Part of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded the grant for the purchase of new digital health equipment for emergency departments, labor and delivery units and clinical spaces in medically underserved health care facilities.

The digital health technology will connect rural providers with remote specialists through private, real-time virtual consultations for triage, diagnosis and treatment recommendations. The remote providers will have the ability to assess conditions dealing with COVID-19, strokes, hand and burn trauma, high-risk pregnancy and behavioral health. The 34 partner sites will also have access to UAMS HealthNow virtual urgent care.

“Using updated digital health equipment is essential in providing Arkansans with optimal quality health care through virtual consults,” said Joseph Sanford, M.D., institute director.

The majority of the 34 partner sites are located in communities with a shortage of providers, nurses and health care facilities. Through the UAMS e-Link virtual platform, UAMS surpassed 100,000 digital health visits in April to reach patients from all corners of the state by expanding the network and range of quality health care, in addition to providing digital health services for rural health care facilities.

“McGehee Hospital’s reliance on telemedicine has accelerated quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Terry L. Amstutz, CEO of McGehee Hospital – one of the 34 partner sites. “For years, UAMS has provided the equipment and the physician specialists for strokes, neurology, cardiology and more.

“With this timely upgrade, the staff at McGehee Hospital feel fortunate to improve our equipment and our relationship with UAMS to provide enhanced patient access for our community,” he added.

Similar to the grant UAMS received from the FCC in June 2020, this grant will also provide reimbursement for telecommunications services, information services and connected devices necessary to enable digital health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.