Kentucky National Guard on the forefront of cutting edge medical and behavioral health technology

By:  Stacy Floden, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Kentucky National Guard utilizing telecommunications technology to connect and deliver health services.

FRANKFORT, Ky.  – Earlier this year, Gov. Matt Bevin appointed four professionals to the Kentucky Telehealth Board, including Capt. Timothy Olsen, Kentucky Army National Guard director of psychological health. He will represent health professionals and serve for a term expiring in 2020.

“This is an exciting opportunity to support the wellbeing of both our Soldiers and all the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Olsen.

The Telehealth Board is composed of ten members consisting of professionals in health care, technology and government. The board oversees the Telehealth Network which was created to provide better access to medical specialists not available in some communities.

Telehealth is the use of telecommunications technology to deliver and support clinical-healthcare and education. It is especially useful when healthcare providers and patients are located far apart, a common challenge in Kentucky.

“Using tools such as secure video-chat to connect and deliver services such as behavioral health support saves significant travel time and costs for everyone involved,” said Olsen. “Research shows these services can be just as effective as in-person treatment.”

Behavioral health is essential to maintain and improve so when bigger challenges or crisis come, you are ready. Just like with physical health, you wouldn’t wait until the day of a PT test to start working out.

“Even the toughest Soldiers face challenges such as posttraumatic stress, depression, addiction, and relationship stress,” stated Olsen. “We want to make sure Soldiers know we’re here to support them through our confidential programs and that our ultimate goal is to aid them in exceling in their careers and lives.”

Kentucky is one of very few states piloting initiatives such as Telehealth. Earlier this year, the Kentucky Army National Guard began using it to deliver behavioral health support to our Soldiers in western Kentucky. Each use saves Soldiers several hours of driving, allowing them to have more time with their families and in their jobs.

The Guard is currently exploring expanding telehealth to other areas of the state as well as using it to deliver medical support in addition to behavior health. Olsen stated, “We want every Soldier in the Guard to have timely access to the highest quality behavioral health and medical care, regardless of where they live.”