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Tufts University to Fund and Support Seven WIC Program Telehealth Innovations

The USDA/Tufts Telehealth Intervention Strategies for WIC (THIS-WIC) is excited to announce that seven WIC State Agencies will receive awards up to $1,000,000 each. Selected through a competitive review process, these 24- to 30-month projects will use innovative telehealth solutions to deliver nutrition education and breastfeeding support to WIC participants to overcome barriers to access, particularly those encountered in rural settings. The THIS-WIC team will oversee the evaluation and provide technical support to funded WIC State Agencies.

The awardees are:

District of Columbia—Advancing Telehealth Technology and Innovation in DC WIC

DC WIC will evaluate and identify ways to enhance the agency’s current telehealth activities, including existing telehealth education tools. In addition, the project will investigate strategies for integrating telehealth into home visiting program delivery models.

Georgia—Technology and WIC—A Comprehensive Approach to Public Health

Georgia WIC plans to build on an existing statewide telehealth platform, Pathways Telehealth, to extend services beyond present boundaries, expanding the telehealth options to web and mobile and decrease barriers to access in rural communities, with the goal of influencing dietary habits and infant feeding practices.

Michigan—Michigan Telehealth Project Advancing WIC

Michigan WIC will implement a pilot study in six rural counties to integrate telehealth technology into their delivery of nutrition education and breastfeeding support services to participants virtually. Telehealth appointments will allow certified professionals to provide high-risk follow-up and secondary education to families. Staff will receive training throughout the study period on the telehealth solution.

North Carolina—Catching up with the times: Bringing WIC to participants via Telehealth Solutions

North Carolina WIC aims to decrease barriers of access to WIC services and increase focus on tailored nutritional needs through four different components: (1) a participant portal app for streamlining the certification process, (2) a video chat component available on the portal to host distance appointments, (3) fixed kiosks to be placed in high-participant-traffic areas of the community with participant portal capabilities, and (4) a TeleWICService Center to be utilized by local WIC agencies that are short-staffed to facilitate distance-based appointments.

South Carolina—Telehealth Solutions for SC WIC

South Carolina WIC will develop an online, mobile-friendly telehealth application to enable WIC participants to access WIC services including high-risk nutrition care planning, breastfeeding education, breastfeeding support, and high-risk assessment via one-on-one video chat, phone call, text messaging, and document sharing through the app.

Vermont—Leveling Up: Delivery of Breastfeeding Education via Interactive Gamification

Vermont WIC will develop a game-based telehealth solution for use during pregnancy and early postpartum weeks to promote breastfeeding initiation and longer duration. Through the game portal, qualified WIC staff members will be able to track a WIC participant’s progress in order to tailor counseling to their needs. The game is designed to work in low-bandwidth areas.

Wisconsin—Online Nutrition Education (ONE) in Wisconsin

Wisconsin WIC plans to develop a multifaceted mobile-optimized website through the ONE system, an innovative tool that will combine videoconferencing, online nutrition education, including lessons and supporting secondary material, a messaging center, and a link to their existing WIC App. Through the tool, qualified WIC professionals will be able to share key information and content with participants, and participants will be able to use the materials in their own time.

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