CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia Health System is working to make it easier for rural patients to access the care they need.

According to a release, the hospital is teaming up with six community health organizations to provide at-home monitoring.

This project is being funded by more than $700,000 in grants from the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Each of the community health organizations will get 40 reusable patient-monitoring kits, which include tablets with an Internet connection and medical equipment such as blood pressure cuffs and thermometers.

“These grants enable the delivery of new, updated telemedicine equipment to our partners and allow them to utilize remote monitoring tools to improve care coordination and clinical outcomes for the patients they serve,” said Karen S. Rheuban, MD, Director of the UVA Center for Telehealth and a UVA School of Medicine faculty member.

The release says the partner sites are the Bath Community Hospital in Hot Springs, the Bland County Medical Clinic in Bastian, the Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems in Tazewell, Tri-Area Community Health in Laurel Fork, Central Virginia Health Services in Farmville, and the Monacan Indian Nation in Madison Heights.

Of these centers, five will be focusing on patients with heart failure. 

The sixth, Central Virginia Health Services, will work to support pregnant women at higher risk for premature birth.

Some of the patients participating in this program will have been discharged from the UVA hospital and sent home while others will be selected by the rural health organizations.

The participating patients will get the home monitoring equipment for free while they are part of this program.

The release says the goal is to improve patients’ health and avoid readmission to hospitals as well as other serious health events.

“Patients will be monitored on a more regular basis by trained professionals who can determine if something is changing or if a negative health event has happened,” said James L. Werth Jr., PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Tri-Area Community Health. “This can prevent problems from getting worse or, in some extreme cases, may help save a person’s life.”

Additionally, the partner sites will be sharing their best practices regarding implementing remote patient monitoring in rural areas, including overcoming the challenges such as poor connectivity.