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The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

With rates of drug and alcohol addiction at record highs in this country, many people never get the substance abuse treatment they need. Telebehavioral counseling can help close this gap, as a helpful support for people who may need ongoing maintenance therapy during recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD), and as a way to triage and refer clients with more serious addictions to the right rehab provider. But discerning when to refer a client to rehab can be difficult, especially within a telehealth context.

The purpose of keeping a patient in a hospital is to provide all the care they need and send them home when they are ready to take care of themselves. But in some cases, the patient has to be readmitted to a medical facility.

The definition of readmission is simple: it means another inpatient stay that starts within a month from the discharge date of the previous stay. It may be for the same cause of the previous admission, but it may also be unrelated. The readmission doesn’t have to occur at the same hospital to be regarded as such.

For patients, readmissions can be devastating.

I must get at least one request a week to fill out some sort of survey – on everything from how do I like the university’s new travel system to how would I rate the tech support I got when trying to fix a bug on my computer. I’m sure you do too, and, like you, I pretty much ignore at least half of them. Okay, maybe 75% of them. But I do fill out some surveys – those where I think my opinion or feedback is going to make a difference.

Well, here’s your chance to make a difference! The Arizona Telemedicine Program and Southwest Telehealth Resource Center are gathering information to educate key healthcare stakeholders about telemedicine and telehealth use and needs in our state. We have created a brief survey on organizations’ telehealth use, providers, benefits, and barriers. We are hoping to compile a complete picture of how and why organizations are using – and not using - telehealth. We’ve already done a pilot with sites in Northern Arizona and have gathered some very interesting data. But as we all know, the more data the better!

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” ~John Dewey

A Superintendent in a rural Midwestern school district was seeking help to meet the communication needs of the students who struggled to comprehend language, produce speech, read and write to communicate, to learn, and to connect socially in their world of playgrounds, peers, tablets, and teachers.  Because of the school district’s rural location, this superintendent had difficulty recruiting full-time speech-language pathologists who could help these students effectively use communication to achieve and succeed in this school district.

Physicians practicing telemedicine have celebrated the implementation of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (“Compact”), which permits physicians practicing telemedicine to easily and quickly obtain a license to practice medicine in a number of states.  However, physicians becoming licensed in multiple states should be aware of the serious responsibilities and risks of multi-state licensure. 

As the anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence approaches, I’ve been thinking about a different kind of independence: The growing freedom from constraints on telehealth coverage.

Several recent and upcoming changes in telehealth policy are converging – nationally and here in Arizona – to reduce limitations on coverage.

In my previous blog on March 26, 2019, I discussed Phase One of “Using Simulation Labs to Teach Future Telehealth Providers at Universidad Mayor (UM) in Chile, South America.” In that blog, I described the expansive rurality of Chile and the simulation lab that is used for educating the health sciences students in Santiago. In this Phase two blog, I will discuss the second half of my visit that demonstrated that Chile has the need, and UM has the equipment available, to educate and train healthcare students about using telehealth.

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