WellCar project seeks to create ‘doctor’s office on wheels’
The days of the kindly country doctor making house calls might be long gone. But according to University of Kansas professor Gregory Thomas, the day may soon return when primary health care can be delivered to the doors of rural Kansans.
Students in Thomas’ design studio are building the WellCar, an innovative vehicle equipped with advanced medical equipment that would enable a nurse practitioner to bring an array of health care services directly to patients, no matter where they live.
“Basically, the WellCar is a doctor’s office on wheels,” said Thomas, a professor in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. “That’s what makes this so exciting, especially for rural communities that don’t have health care access.”
The WellCar is a Ford Transit Connect van that has been equipped with numerous medical and communications devices that allow it to securely exchange data with hospitals and clinics – eliminating the need for patients to travel. Ideally, treatments and prescriptions could be provided on the spot.
Thomas and his students will finish their prototype this fall and send it on the road for testing in 2015.
“This is about better patient care, closer to home,” Thomas said. “We’re very excited about the potential to better serve rural Kansas communities.”