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Policy

The Arizona Telemedicine Program was established in 1996 with eight clinical sites around the state. Now, nearly 20 years later, the ATP has expanded to 160 sites.

As the numbers imply, this is a program whose impact has far exceeded expectations. In fact, on a map recently published by the University of Arizona, showing sites around the state where the UA has a presence, the ATP far outnumbers other programs.

Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, co-founder and director of ATP, points directly to the visionary folks – legislators, physicians, agency officials, hospital and insurance executives and others – who have committed their time and talent to the Arizona Telemedicine Council (ATC).

Telemedicine doctor

One of the largest exhibitors at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show is UnitedHealthcare. The nation’s giant health insurer has had a 3,000 square-foot booth at the show each year for the last four. But of course, they’re not there to show off their latest tele-gadget.

They are there to promote the benefits of telemedicine, telehealth and other tele-technologies that are closing the gap in access to health care.

Doctor holding piggy bank

Academic medical centers scrambling for research dollars should look beyond the limited resources of the NIH to other funding sources – in particular, the Department of Defense.

That’s the advice of Col. (Ret.) Ronald K. Poropatich, MD, executive director for the Center for Military Medicine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, who visited the Arizona Health Sciences Center earlier this year as the inaugural Arizona Telemedicine Program Visiting Professor.

Tipping telemedicine barriers

During the fall of 2011, I was selected to participate in the civic leader fellowship program put on by the Flinn-Brown Foundation. Not having aspirations for political office, I channeled my knowledge of healthcare with my passion for telehealth and jumped in headlong to fulfill the requirements of the program.

Each graduating fellow was charged with the responsibility to develop a common good project that served the citizens of Arizona. Each graduate was also assigned a mentor to help us on our journey. My mentor, Bob Smoldt, is the Chief Administrative Officer Emeritus for Mayo Clinic, Director of the ASU Healthcare Delivery and Policy Program and a great guy.

During initial meeting, I pitched Bob on different ideas that would improve healthcare delivery using telehealth technology. We reviewed existing barriers and quickly realized that to have the biggest impact, we needed a louder single-voice and some additional support. Bob solicited the help of Deni Cortese, Chief Executive Officer and President of Mayo Clinic, and Natalie Landman, PhD Associate Director for Projects at the ASU Healthcare Delivery and Policy Program (HCDPP).

Collectively, we decided to produce a barrier mitigation telemedicine white paper.

Elizabeth Krupinksi, Ronald S. Weinstein, Ana Maria Lopez

Despite the Affordable Care Act’s rocky roll-out last October, more than 7 million Americans have signed on for health-care coverage through the Act as of March 31. Another 3 million have enrolled in state Medicaid plans, largely due to a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that subsidizes states’ expansions of Medicaid eligibility.

A major concern accompanying implementation of the ACA is the demand these millions of newly insured will place on the nation’s already inadequate physician supply.

But an article in the March 2014 issue of The American Journal of Medicine notes that advances in telemedicine, telehealth and mHealth (mobile health) services can help compensate for the physician shortage while meeting the ACA’s goal for increased health-care efficiency.

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