TTUHSC announces new Institute of Telehealth and Digital Innovation

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:40 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - On Tuesday, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center announced a new institute focused on providing health care through digital innovation.

During the pandemic, it was not uncommon to see a doctor via Zoom when one fell sick. However, TTUHSC will now be researching how technology and artificial intelligence can be used to monitor a patient’s health remotely.

“It is one thing to talk about digital health, but it is another thing when you have actually seen the impact of digital health,” Dr. John Gachago, director of the new institute, said.

Lubbock is a medical hub for over 108 counties, many of which are rural areas that do not have practicing physicians. Gachago says traveling hours to see a doctor is just not practical for many patients; that is where digital health comes in.

“We want to layer it in with artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, the internet of things and actually make precision, participatory, preventative care for the people of West Texas,” said Gachago.

Gachago says using technology to remotely monitor vitals is the first plan of action at the new institute, something he says could fundamentally change medicine.

“We can collect data on a farmer’s vitals while he is working in his field, we can collect that digitally and call him proactively before he has a heart attack,” Gachago said.

The institute will focus on expanding access to care for rural communities, pioneering research in digital health, and educating the public and the next generation of physicians on how AI and digital tools can be helpful resources when it comes to healthcare.

“From my experience, I have seen what it does I have seen the lives it has changed,” Gachago said. “Women, children, people who would have otherwise died of preventable diseases, for me it is not just a good idea, it is something I have actually experienced and seen have very positive effects on people’s lives.”

Gachago says the digital age of medicine is here, and Texas Tech Health Sciences Center is positioned to leave a footprint in West Texas healthcare.