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The Universities of Wisconsin have announced recipients of the 2023 UW Innovation Grants, including the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Nursing for its proposal, Technology, Education, Access, Communities and Healthcare: TEACH toward a Healthy Rural Wisconsin, related to the use of telehealth technology.

“We are very excited to see this proposal’s future development and how its innovations will positively affect the Universities of Wisconsin, Wisconsin citizens and communities, and the state’s economic growth,” said Universities of Wisconsin President Jay Rothman.

Three proposals across the Universities of Wisconsin were selected for funding.

Through the UW Innovation Grant, the Universities of Wisconsin will award each winning proposal seed funding totaling up to $175,000 split over two years, after which a progress report will be issued detailing the status of the project, work completed, and the team’s vision for future research or project development.

Health focus of online visits

The objective of the UW Oshkosh proposal is to develop and integrate curriculum to educate current and future nurses on the use of telehealth to improve rural chronic illness outcomes.

Telehealth lets a health care provider care for someone without an in-person office visit. Telehealth is done primarily online with internet access on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

A sustainable and shareable telehealth education infrastructure will link UWO faculty and student resources with the resources of ThedaCare, a leading provider of rural health services in northeastern Wisconsin.

The model will be piloted this summer and implemented in fall at ThedaCare post-acute homecare services in Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. The model will be replicated at other Wisconsin locations during 2025 and used to serve populations experiencing rural access barriers.

Program findings will be disseminated to other regions of Wisconsin and the nation, placing Wisconsin as a leader in innovative nursing telehealth education for rural communities.

Seon Yoon Chung, dean of the College of Nursing, said rural Wisconsinites have an increased risk for adverse health outcomes compared to their urban counterparts. More than one in four Wisconsin residents living in rural areas experience a shortage of primary care providers.

“We’re addressing a missed opportunity for this project, which will guide our current and future nursing workforce to play a greater role in supporting rurally located patients with chronic illness with the use of telehealth,” she said, adding that students will learn about telehealth both in theory and in practice, and be out in communities helping with its adoption and use.

UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt expressed gratitude for the grant support.

“It launches an initiative that is truly a win-win-win,” he said. “It ultimately will be responsive to rural Wisconsinites who deserve the highest-quality, most responsive health care available. It provides UWO nursing students high-impact learning opportunities to leverage technology, better serve those residents and, in the process, develop new knowledge and skill for durable careers.”

Leavitt added that the initiative connects faculty and learners with ThedaCare—an organization focused on extending and strengthening quality health care to rural communities—and UWO is “proud and excited to champion this effort.”

The other proposals receiving a UW Innovation Grant:

  • Brian Barringer, Shelby Ellison, Ann Impullitti, Joseph Mondloch, Shannon Riha and Bryant Scharenbroch, Phytoremediation of PFAS in Wisconsin Soils using Help and Alfalfa, UW-Stevens Point
  • Tina Lee and Yuan Xing, A Human-Centered Collaborative Approach to Designing an Energy-Efficient Wireless Sensor Network for Precision Agriculture, UW-Stout

From this year’s three finalists, a review panel will select a “big idea” winner to receive additional funding totaling up to $400,000 distributed over three years.

Recipients also will be invited to a future UW Board of Regents meeting to present their winning proposal and its projected outcomes.

Learn more:

UWO College of Nursing