Medical Advocacy and Outreach
- Need: Rural Alabama residents with HIV face stigmas, poverty, and transportation barriers, limiting their access to expert HIV health care. Health professional shortages and an increase in the number of new diagnoses contribute to the lack of care available as well.
- Intervention: Telemedicine is utilized to remove these barriers and offer cost-effective care to rural patients with HIV.
- Results: This telehealth network is expanding its services to numerous rural communities in Alabama and patients are staying enrolled in this care due to its convenience and cost-effectiveness.
As of 2013, 41% of Alabamans living with HIV did not have direct access to medical care following their diagnosis. Alabama's high Health Professional Shortage Areas, paired with the fact that there are only 3 American Academy of HIV Medicine credentialed physicians in the state, made getting HIV treatment very difficult for rural residents.
Medical Advocacy and Outreach (MAO) of Alabama is a private, non-profit, community-based AIDS service organization that was established in 1987 to address the rising rate of HIV. In 2011, MAO created the state's first telemedicine network for patients with HIV. Alabama eHealth provides a cost-effective way of giving care to rural Alabamans living with HIV.
Through Alabama eHealth, MAO has added telemedicine clinics in 10 towns, with hub sites at Montgomery and Dothan. MAO partners with clinics in Sipsey, Florence, Tuscaloosa, and Huntsville to operate Alabama eHealth.
MOA was originally supported by a matching grant from AIDS United and the Corporation for National and Community Service's Social Innovation Fund.
MAO connects patient to the following services:
- HIV education and testing
- Community prevention education
- Compassionate, quality care to those infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS
- Food bank services
- Interpretation services
- Telehealth services through Alabama eHealth,
connecting patients to:
- Primary care
- Pharmacist consultations
- Mental health counseling for patients and families
- Other medical and social services
MAO has provided patients living with HIV improved access to care, lower traveling costs, and care for more patients. An evaluation of Alabama eHealth led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found the following positive outcomes of the MAO's Alabama eHealth service:
- 100% of HIV-positive clients are linked to care within 30 days of their appointment
- 96% of clients had a current prescription for antiretroviral therapy (drug that suppress the HIV virus and stops its progression)
- 94% of Alabama eHealth clients were virally suppressed
- 94% of clients in the program are retained in HIV medical care
- For every dollar spent on patients through this program, MAO saved $1.44 in future medical costs for the patient
MAO has received the following honors:
- Named winner of the 2015 American Academy of HIV Medicine Institute for Technology in Health Care HIV Practice award.
- White House national HIV strategy highlighted the Alabama eHealth model as a viable and cost-effective means of reaching rural people living with HIV.
- In 2015, the Alabama governor nominated MOA's CEO, Michael Murphree, to the state's healthcare task force. The White House has also extended an invitation for Murphree to advocate for policies and bolster rural healthcare capabilities for those living with HIV.
MAO's is planning on expanding their services to include diabetes management, hepatitis C specific care, substance abuse treatment, and counseling, with a greater presence in some of the state's poorest counties.
Refer to the article Rural HIV Patients Linked to Medical Care to read how MAO is impacting Alabama citizens and watch a video clip encapsulating the telehealth services offered.
The Medical Advocacy and Outreach is featured in RHIhub's Rural HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Toolkit.
For better understanding how MAO successfully
implementing telehealth services across two-thirds of
Alabama, watch Dr. Bhat's interview on this Improving
Access to HIV/AIDS Care: Telemedicine video (starting
AIDS United's Making Connections: A Guide to Starting a Rural HIV Care Telemedicine Program lists practical steps on how to start a telemedicine program (starting on page 7).
HIV and AIDS
November 17, 2014
November 7, 2017
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.