Curtis Lowery, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and director of the Center for Distance Health, talks about the ANGELS program that he founded at his practice and the benefit it provides to patients.
How does your program, ANGELS, benefit high-risk pregnancies and what was the process of getting it Medicaid funded?
Well ANGELS stands for antenatal neonatal guidelines education learning system. The idea is that we would write down best practices and then be available to consult with patients anywhere they were. At that time they didn't pay for telemedicine, so Medicaid asked us to develop a program that would help in the [managing] of these patients across the state.
We then developed the telemedicine structure. We worked with Medicaid to come up with a way of [University of Arkansas Medical School, UAMS] paying the match to Medicaid. Medicaid works by the states providing 25%—in a poor state like Arkansas—25% of the money, and then the federal government gives us 75% of the total cost of the care. So, UAMS, the system, was able to come up with money for the match and so, then we could apply for federal money and then we got 75 cents on the dollar to establish the program.
Of course, all of this had to be approved through the Department of Medicaid and the Department of Human Services (DHS), and so that happened in 2003 when the program started.