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State agency looks to telehealth to boost access and quality of care.

Two private medical practices with offices around Maryland will receive grants from the Maryland Health Care Commission totaling more than $115,000 to demonstrate the value of telehealth technology.

Telehealth involves using remote examinations tools, video and teleconferencing to boost access to care and provide efficient, less costly services to patients outside of the office. The goal is to reduce hospital emergency visits and admissions and readmission by providing early and appropriate treatment, according to the commission, an independent state regulatory agency that plans for the health system needs and promotes access and accountability.

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The grants will go to Gilchrist Greater Living, which provides geriatric care in Central Maryland, and MedPeds LLC, a Laurel-based family medicine practice. The projects launch this month and run through November 2017.

Gilchrist plans to provide patient with in-home telehealth monitoring for chronically ill patients. MedPeds plans to offer 24/7 telehealth services, enabling patient to make appointment and gain access to their electronic health records.

The commission has awarded $257,000 for telehealth projects since 2014 in an effort to show that such programs can increase access to care, improve health outcomes and save money. If proven, a programs could be more widely adopted.

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