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mHealth

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.

Dr. Weinstein demonstrating telepathology during a teaching session.

A medical breakthrough in 1986 has changed the practice of medicine around the world: the invention of telepathology, the diagnosis of surgical pathology slides at a distance.

Invented, patented and commercialized by Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, University of Arizona professor of pathology and founding director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program, telepathology was demonstrated in 1986. A 66-year-old breast cancer patient in El Paso, Texas, had her breast biopsy diagnosis verified by a surgical pathologist in Washington, D.C., via satellite communications and tele-robotic light microscopy.

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