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The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

Scanning electron micrograph of two COVID-19 virus particles against a background of human red blood cells (pseudo-color)

On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) categorized the 2019 Novel Corona Virus COVID- 19 disease outbreak “a public health emergency, of international concern, day after day “hitting closer to home.”

But on February 28 edition of Tech Trends offered more than a glimmer of hope:

Information Technology (IT) has transformed many areas and medical care is a key area that digitalization can affect and improve. Telemedicine is the application of medical care, diagnostics, information dissemination and treatment through digital and virtual processes. Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) were introduced in 1997 as part of a program that aimed to increase access to medical care in rural areas of the United States. They are typically small hospitals that are set up at least 35 miles from any other hospital and have a maximum of 25 beds. Further, they provide patients with essential medical services but to a maximum of 96 hours.

Telemedicine - otherwise known as virtual health - refers to the one-on-one consultations between patients and health professionals via video chat, phone call, or text message.

It’s the process of doctors treating patients remotely instead of face to face, using some sort of digital connection for the patient and doctor to connect for a health assessment or mental assessment in real-time. In other words, telemedicine is the answer to healthcare problems for people who work full-time, have young children, have no health insurance, or are otherwise unable to physically go and see a physician because of logistical challenges.

Online Course: “Developing Telemedicine Services”

Open Enrollment

The national award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), headquartered at the University of Arizona Health Sciences in Tucson, Arizona, will conduct a major, online training program regarding the COVID-19 pandemic for health-care providers, administrators, and educators, titled: “Developing Telemedicine Services,” on Monday, March 23, 2020.  “Telemedicine is a key capability for healthcare providers and the community they serve to slow the spread of the COVID-19,” notes Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, a pioneer in telemedicine and founding director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program. The ATP has been producing in-person telemedicine and telehealth training programs for the past 20 years. Thousands of individuals, from hundreds of healthcare organizations, have attended these programs and given them high marks.  “Now, in response to the COVID-19 pardemic, we are taking the course online for the first time.”  He added,  “Obviously, this will open the session to a far larger audience, filling an urgent need at this time.”

The program will be presented in two 3-hour blocks. 9:00 a.m. until 12 noon, and 1:00 p.m. until 4 p.m.  It is given in a Zoom webinar format, providing the opportunity for questions and answers.  

Arizona’s strength in rural is our many partnerships.  Arizona is the 6th largest state in the U.S. by area, and over 81.8 percent of all Arizona land is state, federal or tribal controlled; there is a lot of area to cover.  Plus, there is a lot of great work going on in all regions of Arizona, and we thought “let’s share this, let’s go on a “Virtual Road Trip” Via a webinar.  We reached out to folks and before we knew it, 12 groups volunteered to share their vision. 

And on November 21, 2019, we started our “Virtual Road Trip” in Tucson. 

Technology has disrupted every atom of our society, and medicine is no exception. Through the practice of telemedicine, experts can now expand their user base and grow their business, while patients can get quicker access to healthcare than ever before.

However, the applications of telemedicine in practice have not been well-marketed enough, resulting in the public being under-informed. That’s why the burden of proof, explaining the concept and actually selling the service comes down to telemedicine professionals themselves.

The point of this article is to offer medical professionals ideas to market themselves better and inform their patients about this alternative way of examining them from a distance.

Telemedicine services are rapidly expanding, with many providers realizing that they can expand their reach and revenue by utilizing improved connectivity and convenient technology. Telemedicine takes several forms, including consultation directly in the office, school-based consultation to provide emergency services to students, home video consultations, and even integration of biometric data from a person’s health wearables. While telemedicine is indeed beneficial for all stakeholders, it is equally important for providers to make sure they are well-versed with the entire process before they step into it. In order to offer effective primary care and enable truly coordinate care, providers must consider all the planning element that are part of successful telemedicine ventures.

Here are the important steps to be taken care of when starting telemedicine.

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