Iowa project links rural areas cross-state to top-notch medical advice

When a child has a complicated problem like autism or cerebral palsy, it can take a village-medical professionals, therapists, teachers, family members, and home care aides-to provide proper care. For families in rural areas, it's hard to get to the specialists their children need to see. Another challenge is developing a plan to coordinate the diverse team of caregivers.

The University of Iowa's Child Interdisciplinary Disability Project (CIDP), based at the University Hospital School in Iowa City, fulfills this function, but with a high-tech twist. "Thanks to a fiber optic network and interactive audiovisual devices, experts at the University can perform clinical evaluations, and plot a course of care, for children hundreds of miles across the state," said National Library of Medicine Director, Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D. "The patient is spared long car trips, parents don't have to miss work, and the family can tap into the best medical advice the state has to offer without leaving their hometown. Perhaps best of all, with the various experts all assembled, they can collaborate with ease."

The Iowa project, created with financial support from the National Library of Medicine, an arm of the National Institutes of Health, will be showcased Monday, December 4th, at 1:00 p.m. at the Health Information Infrastructure conference, sponsored by the non-profit Friends of the National Library of Medicine. The session will not only tell but will show how CIDP works, with a live hook-up to sites in Iowa and an interview with a patient's family in rural Iowa. U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will be on hand to discuss the project's potential for the Nation's disabled Americans. The event will take place at the Bethesda Marriott Hotel, 5151 Pooks Hill Road, Bethesda, Maryland.

Here's how it works. In the case of the Walker family, who will be appearing via remote from Ottumwa, Iowa, their eight-year-old son visited the University Hospital School outpatient clinic

Contact: Robert Mehnert/Kathy Cravedi
NIH/National Library of Medicine

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