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Bernacchio, co-authors examine telehealth for international audience

Neither the global pandemic nor devastating fires could keep USM’s Charles Bernacchio and his co-author from writing a just-published chapter in a new book, “Sustainable Community Health: Systems and Practices in Diverse Settings.”

One of Bernacchio’s co-authors, Anupama Ginige, a Bio-Informatics researcher at Western Sydney University, Australia, managed to complete his work despite the destructive fires that scorched so much of his country.  And all three — Bernacchio, Josephine F. Wilson of Wright State University, and Ginige — managed to work together without meeting in person.

“We were just beginning to figure out all of this when the pandemic hit,” said Bernacchio, a professor of Counselor Education in Rehabilitation Counseling at USM.

Fittingly, their work was about the use of remote technology to deliver health care. Their chapter is titled, "Telehealth Utilization in Low Resource Settings."

“The focus is trying to figure out increased access through the use of telehealth technology,” Bernacchio said.

Together, they looked at the issue from an international perspective, largely on rural areas. They consolidated information from a wide variety of sources and looked carefully at how rural areas can benefit from telehealth.

In some places, there are just too few doctors to have one available in person. In other places, the problem is money.

“In Maine, it’s necessary because the state’s northern areas cannot afford the costs of having the specialists on hand,” Bernacchio said. “However, using telehealth, they can access their skills as needed.”