The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has launched a new statewide digital health spine clinic that will allow patients with spinal disorders, and spinal cord tumors to see a specialist at the closest location to their homes without visiting Little Rock. The UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the UAMS Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute recently held the first digital spine clinic consultations in Arkansas in April. The virtual spine visits are being delivered through a live video and data connection at UAMS Regional Campuses around the state.
“The goal of the clinic is to help eliminate long-distance travel for our patients,” said T. Glenn Pait, M.D., a professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Neurosurgery and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and director of the Spine Institute. “The clinic can work with patients before surgery, follow-up visits after surgery, and other therapies that can assist with their spinal conditions.”
Digital Health Spine Clinic: How It Works
The digital clinic spine clinic helps improves access for rural patients throughout the state. With timelier and easier access to high-quality specialty spine care, the virtual visit helps identify factors responsible for the patient’s pain, as well as, factors that will interfere with recovery, if surgery is needed. Patients are scheduled by their primary care providers through the referral process. The appointment will help to confirm a diagnosis, and patients can ask questions about their diagnosis and treatment options
The nursing staff at the regional campuses has been trained on how to conduct neurological and spinal examinations under the direction of the physician and to assess the patient’s condition. Dr. Pait reviews and discusses the patient’s medical records, radiological studies, imaging and other information with the patient.
“The patients are also given requirements before surgery for therapies to assist in their recovery and improve surgical outcomes via digital health with the assistance of our staff at the patient site.” Pait said. “This health service will be of community benefit by allowing a broader level of specialty spine care.”
Expansion Plans to 8 Regional Campuses
The initial clinic was at UAMS regional campuses in Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Texarkana with a total of six patients seen from the three locations. The goal is for all eight UAMS Regional Campuses to see two patients a day for a total of 32 patient visits per month.
“It’s about providing care to the people of Arkansas one patient at a time, where they live,” said Terri Imus, RN, of the Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. “This is why we do digital health clinics, we’re giving people access to care that they otherwise would not have unless they come to the Little Rock Campus.”