Ashley County Medical Center and the UAMS-led ANGELS program recently upgraded networking technology at the medical center so mothers from the region with high-risk pregnancies can get the care they need closer to home.

Founded in 2003 at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), the Antenatal and Neonatal Guidelines, Education and Learning System (ANGELS) is an innovative consultative service for a wide range of physicians including family practitioners, obstetricians, neonatologists and pediatricians in Arkansas.

Maternal-fetal medicine specialists using a broadband connection through the ANGELS network can see ultrasound images live and talk to pregnant mothers at dozens of health care providers statewide. Experienced registered nurses staff the Institute for Digital Health & Innovation Call Center around the clock every day. They provide counseling, telephone triage of immediate health concerns, and education concerning health problems during pregnancy.

“This partnership gives us an opportunity to enhance the high level of quality care that pregnant mothers and their families in our region can find near their homes and here at the medical center,” said Phil Gilmore, the hospital’s administrator and CEO. “We’re committed to helping reduce the health risks to mothers and their babies, and we are excited to be able to use even more fully everything the ANGELS program can offer.”

Ashley County Medical Center has used ANGELS consultative services for several years, but now with the recent upgrade are also able use live ultrasound imaging during consultations.

“Applying technology in a meaningful way is how we effect positive change in health care for everyone, especially pregnant mothers,” said Curtis Lowery, M.D., director of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation.

“Ashley County Medical Center’s willingness to collaborate with us in providing that care and in improving access to care demonstrates that they share that forward-thinking vision of progress.”

The institute is expanding on existing relationships between UAMS and rural hospitals to provide access to medical specialties that aren’t in those communities. Increased access to specialists can reduce health care costs by reducing the need to transfer patients from rural hospitals to UAMS or to larger medical centers where those specialists often are more commonly practicing.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state.

UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health.

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