Volunteers in Medicine Jacksonville, a nonprofit organization that provides free medical care for the area’s low-income working uninsured, has been awarded a $206,500 grant from the Florida Blue Foundation to implement a three-year telehealth program that allows patients remote access to ongoing health care.

Telehealth utilizes video technologies that enable health care professionals to communicate remotely with patients who may have transportation issues or cannot afford to lose time off from work for medical appointments.

“Telehealth has become a reality in today’s health care delivery,” said Jennifer Ryan, CEO of Volunteers in Medicine. “Most of our patients are hourly employees. Many have difficulty getting time off from work for their medical appointments and others have transportation issues. Telehealth removes these barriers and facilitates continuity of care which is critical to improving our patient outcomes – especially those with chronic conditions.”

The grant will equip Volunteers in Medicine with the capability to deliver telemedicine primary services along with nutritional and mental health counseling and enable patients to access health care from home or work utilizing smart phones or tablets. Pending the health care team’s three-year findings and evaluations, Volunteers in Medicine is hopeful that this will become part of their regular standard of care.

The telehealth program is a collaborative project with the University of North Florida Brooks College of Health, with the goal of improving individual health outcomes for those suffering with obesity, hypertension, diabetes and mental health conditions.

Under the supervision of the clinic’s medical staff and UNF professors, students from nursing, nutrition and mental health counseling will develop individualized health plans for patients and provide telehealth consultations.