CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – Conway Medical Center is investing $1 million dollars into expanding its telehealth options after winning an award from the Federal Communication’s Commission.

The Connected Care Pilot Program could help about 2,000 people who live in rural areas of Conway get easier access to healthcare, CMC leaders say. The program will also focus efforts on the 18% of that population that is considered low-income.

“There are still some things that we will have to lay hands on, and I get that, that will always be there, but this is a valuable tool and I’m excited about what it’s going to bring to some communities that may not have access,” Chief Medical Officer at Conway Medical Center, Dr. Paul Richardson, said. “You’re talking about opening a lot of doors to a lot of people.”

Richardson is hopeful the program will expand access of specialty physicians to rural communities as well.
“I’m foreseeing that very simple visits can be done, sometimes folks that don’t have access to some specialists,” Richardson said. “I’m foreseeing them getting access, so they don’t have to travel so far. I’m foreseeing all kinds of applications to help folks.”

While Richardson says there will always be a need for hands-on medicine, he says the pandemic forced a lot of healthcare workers to see telemedicine differently.

“I think some of us who have been around medicine for a while like myself, we really weren’t trained in this area, and it wasn’t prevalent, but we really had to take a critical look at it, and it is a valuable tool,” he said. “Even docs who were trained in my day, we learned there is a lot we can do through telemedicine.”

Right now, hospital leaders are looking into purchasing the necessary equipment for the program, which will last through 2023.

CMC was awarded about $1,018,000 dollars for the project. This is the second financial award the hospital has received from the FCC to advance telehealth services in the area.