SUNRISE, Fla., July 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Families in Columbia County and surrounding areas will no longer have to travel up to two hours to see a pediatric specialist, thanks to telemedicine equipment donated by Sunshine Health, a leading provider of government-sponsored managed care.
The equipment at Children's Medical Center in Lake City connects the office of pediatrician Andres Villar, M.D., to specialists with Nemours Children's Health System, one of the leading health systems that provides specialized pediatric care. This gives children with complex medical needs access to the same specialty care available in large cities like Jacksonville and Orlando without the burden of traveling.
Researchers have acknowledged disparities in health care access, outcomes and life expectancy between rural populations in the U.S. and the general population. One in five Americans live in rural communities away from large U.S. cities, but only 11 percent of physicians practice in rural areas, according to the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. This provider shortage can be especially acute for children with complex diseases who require specialists.
The telemedicine equipment includes diagnostic tools and cameras that connect to Nemours' CareConnect platform, enabling patients to have face-to-face video appointments with specialists. With the equipment at Children's Medical Center, a specialist can do things like listen to the patient's heart, look in an ear or perform other needed examinations.
"It is a great opportunity to use technology to give patients increased access to specialists they might not otherwise have been able to see," said Dr. Villar. "We are excited to get started and look forward to working more closely with Sunshine Health and Nemours."
Children's Medical Center is the first office in Florida to offer this special connection to Nemours physicians in pediatric specialties such as gastroenterology, rheumatology and neurology. Sunshine Health is working with Nemours to help ensure children in rural communities receive the care they need, close to home. This is the first initiative of that partnership.
"We recognize the need to make care more accessible for our members," said Thidaporn Tanpattana, D.O., a Sunshine Health medical director who was at Dr. Villar's office to present the equipment. "By partnering with Nemours to bring telemedicine equipment to this area, we are making quality care more readily available to our members, and empowering providers with the tools they need to help their patients, and our members, achieve better health."
About Sunshine Health
Headquartered in Sunrise, Fla., Sunshine Health is among the largest healthcare plans in Florida. Offering coordinated care and a network of support for more than 1 million members, Sunshine Health is transforming the health of the community, one person at a time. Sunshine Health is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a diversified, multi-national healthcare enterprise focusing on under-insured and uninsured individuals. Sunshine Health offers government-sponsored managed care through Medicaid, Long Term Care, Ambetter (Marketplace) and Allwell (Medicare). Additionally, we offer a specialty Medicaid health plan for children in or adopted from Florida's Child Welfare system and a full pay Healthy Kids plan. For more information, visit SunshineHealth.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SunHealthFL.
About Nemours Children's Health System
Nemours is an internationally recognized children's health system that owns and operates Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando, Fla., Nemours Children's Specialty Care in Jacksonville and Pensacola, Nemours CareConnect, and nearly 90 other care sites spread over five states.