Eric Wallace, MD, medical director of Telehealth at UAB Hospital and an associate professor in the UAB Division of Nephrology, has been named the 2021 Community Star of Alabama by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health for his efforts in developing telehealth services to increase access to health care in rural communities.
Small towns in Alabama have lacked access to subspecialty care for many years. Until recently, patients in need of nephrology, infectious disease, critical care or neurology services, among others, would be transferred to an urban hospital for care.
Wallace identified this problem and in 2016, he became the first physician in the country to replace an in-person doctor/patient visit with a telehealth visit for home dialysis. That successful first-of-its-kind appointment led to the creation of a secondary line of service, one that would provide access to subspecialty care for thousands of rural Alabamians.
Since that beginning, Wallace and his team have established dozens of partnerships, networking with providers to create a telehealth system that includes UAB, along with three other hospitals, engaging in tele-nephrology, as well as 14 other hospitals for telehealth, so that rural facilities can deliver subspecialized care to patients near their home.