Telemedicine is Revolutionizing Inmate Care Within Texas Prisons

The healthcare industry is evolving fast to keep up with the demands of our growing population. While you may read about the aging Baby Boomer population as health care’s greatest challenge, other issues require similar attention. Dealing with inmate health in state prisons has become just as much of a hurdle.

Telemedicine has already helped many health care agencies be able to communicate better with patients. Now Texas is working with Texas Tech University and the University of Texas Medical Branch to increase inmate access to providers through telemedicine technology. It’s a major development in health care evolution because it saves time, reduces costs, removes transportation as an issue and is incredibly easy to implement.

How the Partnership Between Texas and the Universities Work

There isn’t a better partnership to improve inmate medical health in Texas prisons than the state working directly with universities. The partnership is one likely inspiring other medical institutions to bring improved health care to the masses.

With this practice, Texas now becomes a bold new innovator in telemedicine despite lagging behind on the technology in past years.

Dr. Owen Murray, vice president of offender health services at the University of Texas Medical Branch gives good insight into how telemedicine works with inmates:

“(Telemedicine) has improved access to care, and allowed us to recruit good doctors who might not want to work in prisons, but can now work in an office and meet with offenders remotely.”

The above partnership between the three (The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, UTMB, and Texas Tech University) is a huge step forward in providing comprehensive health services to inmates in Texas prisons.

How Estelle Prison is Making Telemedicine Work

In Huntsville, Estelle Prison was already experiencing trouble on medical costs caring for inmates. Their initiative to work with the state to bring care from the above universities could soon change everything in how they deal with inmate care.

Considering Texas has many prisons, this could finally improve their budgets after experimenting with telemedicine for years. The state was already using primitive forms of the tech as far back as the early 1990s, though the video technology prohibited efficient use.

Now with hi-definition cameras and high-speed internet, the time is right for them and other state prisons to take action. The prison is now using these to conduct Telemedicine visits, connecting remotely housed inmates with medical professionals all around the state by subcontracting prison healthcare to the above reputable universities.

Cutting Costs

The amount of money saved from telemedicine technology in Texas prisons is potentially exponential. This is important for the state because while prisons receive a certain amount of money to spend per prisoner, Texas spends far less on prisoners than the national average. Telemedicine technology is inexpensive and can boost quality greatly with little spend.

For one, using telemedicine allows digital face-to-face interactions with doctors and saves on transportation and high security costs (transferring inmates to a clinic or hospital, or requesting an in-house visit by the provider).

How about the technology? Is the startup cost high?
It’s not. The SecureVideo platform supports a wide range of devices which you likely already have. For example, smart phones and tablets are supported and they already have built-in cameras and microphones. Many laptops have these built-in as well and if your computer doesn’t, you can easily purchase an external webcam and get started right away. No special or proprietary equipment is used.

Setting up the Perfect Behavioral Health Use Case

Thanks to improved telemedicine cameras, doctors can create meaningful connections with patients as if they were in the same room, while also being able to instantly see another patient in an entirely different location. They can work from the comfort of their own offices securely and meet with different prisoners easily and efficiently.

From a cost standpoint, this saves the doctor having to travel great distances to the prisons, something they’d charge extra to do. This also potentially speeds up inmate care through on-demand sessions, which the provider is more likely to provide given that they can video conference from anywhere with an internet connection.

According to Urban.org, the telemedicine process has already saved Texas prisons from $200-$1000 per inmate.

Scheduling Follow-Ups

Setting a time for an inmate to meet with a doctor via telemedicine is extremely simple, and so are follow ups. The quick access to follow-ups lowers any chance of medical relapses or even death in inmates dealing with the most severe medical problems. This is a step forward to ensuring good medical outcomes and healthy patients.

Contact SecureVideo to learn about our HIPAA-compliant video platform and see how easy it is to securely integrate into your system.

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