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The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

The care continuum increasingly relies on the skilled nursing facility to extend patient care beyond the acute care facility before the patient is sent home.  The hospitals are under pressure to treat only the most acute conditions and then move the patient to facilities with lower costs of care.  Accordingly, skilled nursing facilities are accepting patients who are frailer and more complicated.  “Between 2005 and 2009, the percentage of Medicare SNF patients with eight or more co-mobidities increased from 74.8 to 86.9 percent..”  And, the “proportion of patients in SNFs categorized as having major or extreme severity of illness increased from about 45 percent in 2005 to 53 percent in 2009.”

Image courtesy of thedo.osteopathic.org

In a watershed moment for the expansion of telemedicine, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission is now processing applications to allow physicians to practice telemedicine across state lines with greater ease.  Nineteen states have passed legislation to adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which allows physicians to obtain a license to practice medicine in any Compact state through a simplified application process.  Under the new system, participating state medical boards retain their licensing and disciplinary authority, but agree to share information essential to licensing, creating a streamlined process.

Shubh Kaur, MD

When endocrinologist Shubh Kaur, MD, was first approached to consider telehealth visits with patients in the Douglas and Safford areas, she was immediately intrigued. 

It seemed an appropriate solution for patients whose zip codes made it difficult to get specialty care without a lengthy drive. 

But she was also new to the technology. “I had an open mind about what the interaction would be like, but I was very interested in the question of patient experience, and whether it would be effective in building relationships.” 

Telemedicine is advancing how we treat drug and alcohol addiction. That’s good news for the 21 million people in this country with substance use disorders (SUDs). Here’s why, from my perspective as an addiction clinician.

Substance abuse is now a major public health crisis that demands urgent priority and the application of new and innovative solutions that can help close the treatment gap. At a time when drug overdose is the fastest-growing cause of accidental death, and when more people have SUDs than cancer, telehealth treatment for addiction promises to reach a whole swath of people in need of treatment, for whom geography or other factors — stigma can be another one — were once an obstacle to help. It still remains the case, for example, that patients in rural areas of the country have to drive long distances to get to a treatment center or to see an addiction specialist for medication-assisted treatment. Telemedicine is reducing the burden of such barriers.

As the old saying goes, you win some, and you lose some. Well, I’m pretty sure that most of us would rather be on the “win some” side of the equation, especially when it comes to telemedicine grants. The good news is, there are plenty of grant opportunities out there, including the US Department of Health and Human Services, HRSA Telehealth Network Grant Program, the US Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant, and opportunities through state agencies and foundations. But how do you position yourself for success? Let’s start with some tips on writing a successful telemedicine grant proposal:

Peg the Gila Monster lost a leg after she walked into a trap. She can no longer survive in the wild so she lives at the Poison Center and is part of its education program.

A University of Arizona College of Pharmacy program is saving Arizonans millions of dollars a year in health-care costs.

It’s the pharmacy college’s Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center – a public service in operation since1955, when it became the second poison center in the country; the first was launched in Chicago, in 1953.

Photo courtesy of Robin Blitz

Parents in rural Arizona used to have just one option if they were worried their child had autism: They had to pack the family into the car and drive for hours to see a developmental pediatrician in Phoenix or Tucson.

Now there’s a program that utilizes telemedicine to provide timely evaluation and diagnosis of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), so families who live in rural and underserved areas – including Hispanic and Native American communities – don’t have to travel far.


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