Dallas Trio To Bring ‘Specialists to Patients’ With Rural Cardiac Telemedicine Pilot

With support from the American Heart Association, Access TeleCare and UT Southwestern Medical Center are spearheading a two-year initiative aimed at improving cardiac care for rural patients.

Dallas-based Access TeleCare and the UT Southwestern Medical Center — with support from the Dallas-based American Heart Association — are leading a two-year project to evaluate how to improve the care of patients with heart failure in rural communities across the nation.

Access TeleCare, a leader in the specialty telemedicine field, was founded in 2004 by a group of physicians with a vision to deliver specialty care at scale through technology. Today, the company, formerly known as SOC Telemed, claims clients in 19 of the 25 largest U.S. health systems, as well as small hospitals across the country.

Access Telecare CEO Chris Gallagher

Access Telecare CEO Chris Gallagher said the company is a pioneer in “eliminating barriers to timely specialty care in rural communities by bringing specialists to patients” through telemedicine.

 “This project is further evidence of our commitment to setting the standard of care for high-acuity telemedicine and being the standard bearer for telemedicine excellence,” the CEO said in a statement.

According to Access, the project will:

  • Create a registry of 1,000 rural patients with heart failure who are hospitalized in rural hospitals that have a teleCardiology program to document patterns of care.
  • Pilot a home-based cardiac rehabilitation program for 50 patients using a mobile health (mHealth) platform.

The project’s primary investigator is Ambarish Pandey, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist affiliated with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“Too many rural patients lack access to essential cardiac rehabilitation after they leave the hospital,” Pandey said in a statement.

The M.D. said the project will create a “valuable registry and outreach effort to evaluate the effectiveness of a home-based telemedicine option to help eliminate barriers to evidence-based care.”

Access TeleCare, citing the National Institutes of Health, said that rural residents are 19 percent more likely to develop heart failure than urban residents. Rural communities often have no practicing cardiologists; only 54 percent of U.S. counties had a cardiology practice in 2023, according to a 2023 study.

The project will use content and tools licensed from the American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines initiative, which seeks to improve cardiac care by promoting consistent adherence to current scientific treatment guidelines.

The initiative is one of five AHA programs aimed at consistent, evidence-based treatment for patients experiencing cardiovascular conditions or stroke. The project will run for two years through May 2025.

Access TeleCare said it has over 1,000 inpatient telemedicine programs with hospitals nationwide, providing coverage for multiple specialties including cardiology. These programs give hospitals 24/7 access to cardiologists for patients hospitalized with heart failure, arrhythmias, chest pain, and other heart-related conditions.

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