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$1.6 million federal grant to fund new telehealth initiative at Drake, improving health outcomes for underserved, rural residents

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is working to address health disparities for underserved populations in rural communities.

The College is partnering with Certintell, a telehealth company based in Des Moines and founded by Drake alumnus Ben Lefever, and Tabula Rasa HealthCare, Inc.® to improve health outcomes for underserved, rural patients through a remote approach. The collaboration will utilize TRHC’s proprietary Medwise® technology to facilitate medication safety reviews and monitor patients remotely through an existing call center at Drake University. The project is being funded through a 5-year, $1.6 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Approximately 40 percent of Iowa’s population lives in a rural community (USDA-ERS, 2019). Rural areas tend to have higher poverty rates, older residents, and a greater number of individuals without health insurance compared to their urban counterparts.

“This project is an opportunity to address the health inequities that underserved, rural residents often face, while also providing experiential learning opportunities for our students,” said Tim Welty, professor of pharmacy practice at Drake University. “Specifically, this initiative will focus on improving control of hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol through use of telehealth coaches coordinated with medication risk assessments by pharmacists in our call center. A unique aspect of this project is the use of remote patient monitoring technology that provides between-clinic visits information to improve care. Ultimately, we hope these efforts will reduce problems in patients, including falls and injuries, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations.”

Drake University pharmacy students will play a hands-on role in this initiative. Students will perform clinical rotations through the MedWise call center and assist with medication risk assessments. In addition, students enrolled in Drake’s Master of Science in Health Informatics and Analytics program will have an opportunity to collaborate on data analysis and research.

“Through this innovative partnership with Certintell and Tabula Rasa HealthCare, we are ensuring students are prepared to lead in an ever-changing, digital field,” said Welty. “The future of healthcare is changing, and telehealth is here to stay. This initiative will enhance students’ ability to deliver optimal care across all platforms, remotely and in-person.”  

The project described is supported by grant number 1 G01RH42535‐01‐00 from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS.

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