Curtis Lowery, M.D., has a passion to help deliver the highest quality healthcare to all Americans, no matter their physical location.
Recently named Chairperson for University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, he has served as the Director of Obstetrics at UAMS since 1992. In that time, he facilitated the process in which Arkansas insurance handles telemedicine, increased Medicaid reimbursements and promoted understanding for telemedicine, and brought telehealth access to more than 60 hospitals and community clinics in rural Arkansas providing medical consultations combined with provider and patient education.
He's also active with Antenatal and Neonatal Guidelines, Education and Learning (ANGELS), an innovative consultative service for a wide range of physicians including family practitioners, obstetricians, neonatologists and pediatricians in Arkansas. The only service of its kind in the nation, ANGELS is a joint program of the UAMS College of Medicine, the Arkansas Department of Human Services and the Arkansas Medical Society.
Lowery is a featured speaker at the Telemed Leadership Forum 2018 on March 27 in Washington, D.C. Among other topics at his session, “Arkansas’ Innovative Consultative Telehealth Service: A Model for Reaching Medically Underserved Areas,” he’ll discuss how today’s healthcare delivery system is evolving toward a more flexible approach, including the benefits of strategically moving away from a fee-for-service model. “I’ll also talk about how the use of technology can link healthcare systems to provide quality care at a lower cost,” he told The URAC Report.
The innovative ANGELS program was launched in 2002. Dr. Lowery will share updates, best practices, and lessons learned in this highly successful telehealth-led program.
His focus at ANGELS is to ensure that every woman in Arkansas at risk of having a complicated pregnancy receives the best possible perinatal care. One of the foundations of that effort is a wide-ranging program of consultation by UAMS board-certified, maternal-fetal medicine physicians using telemedicine technology.
It’s a laudable goal, but challenges remain. For example, maintaining quality of service across disparate locations and with different personnel requires a dedicated strategy. Standards and accreditation are a critical part of that foundation. “You can’t do it without it,” Dr. Lowery said. “It’s essential.”
Using telehealth, a wide array of services can be delivered to patients in remote locations. Dr. Lowery cites his organization as one case in point. “The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences needs to be the top of the iceberg take care of the sick and complicated people…that doesn’t mean we should be taking care of everybody.”
He adds, “That’s kind of the approach we’re taking here, how to build a healthcare system that uses technology to link multidisciplinary providers together.”
In 2016, ANGELS added a new service to assist pregnant women suffering from diabetes - a Web-Based Instruction on Nutrition (WIN). The program, which has online and live interactive telemedicine elements, features online modules to assist pregnant women suffering from diabetes to help them manage and maintain their condition during pregnancy.
Patients are given access to an online assessment module which is required education before making an appointment. The telemedicine appointment consists of a physician or advanced practice nurse (APN) as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). Denise Ragland, PharmD and CDE, sees patients on Mondays. Andrea Tappe, a registered dietitian and CDE sees patients on Thursdays. During these provider-to-patient meetings they go over progress the patient has made and aid with the management of blood sugar.
It’s all part of leveraging telehealth tools and tactics. “We’ve tried to support [more remote] communities and match the need with resources,” Dr. Lowery says. Using telehealth and other capabilities, the ANGELS program has helped treat people “where they were, if possible, and only moved the ones that needed to be moved” to his location.