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ARTICLE Telemedicine for the Navajo Nation

UnitedHealthcare Community & State operates the Children's Rehabilitative Services (CRS) program in Arizona that serves about 24,000 medically complex children with congenital anomalies. A particular concern is that patients and parents living in rural, hard to reach communities often face hundreds of miles of travel to reach specialty care. In addition to long drives, these trips can mean lost wages and lost school days for the child and their siblings.

Enter telemedicine. Telemedicine means delivering health care services when the clinician and patient are at different locations using data, images, audio and video. It's a proven way to relieve the travel burden on caregivers and make more efficient use of scarce medical resources.

Most recently we expanded the program into Tuba City, on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. This is a landmark program for CRS and the Navajo Nation. By matching patients with Phoenix based neurologists through telemedicine, we are able to more effectively meet the complex needs of this medically fragile population.

In the next phase we will explore expanding the program to other locations and to include pediatric cardiology, metabolic genetic and orthopedic members.