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mHealth

When implementing a telemedicine program, you should create a new workflow. It’s easier to adapt a current workflow into the technology than to create a new productivity model. Your daily processes will need some changes but not entirely, and this can be to your advantage.

After your workflow model is altered – and it’s an easy process if done properly -- you can integrate it slowly into your daily practice. This will make this easier for you and your patients.

(L to R) Matthew Gembala, MD, of AKDHC demonstrates how a telenephrology consultation works with Troy Layden, RN, Summit dialysis manager, and Fredda Kermes, Summit telemedicine director.

When Summit Healthcare in Show Low, AZ, lost its inpatient dialysis service and its two local nephrologists in 2016, it was no longer able to provide dialysis for patients who were hospitalized. Instead, Summit had to transport these patients to a hospital in Phoenix, Tucson or Flagstaff, where they could receive not only acute inpatient services but also inpatient dialysis. These transports, nearly always via air medical services, cost on average $42,000 per flight.

Word quickly got around the local dialysis community that if you were admitted at Summit for an inpatient stay (say for appendicitis or pneumonia), you would have to be transported to a metropolitan hospital so you could receive your needed dialysis as an inpatient. These patients started avoiding the Summit Emergency Department—and necessary healthcare—because they knew they would be flown out to a larger city.

Veterans Administration Building in Washington, DC

In May of 2018, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) introduced new legislation that would allow network healthcare providers to treat veterans using telehealth technology. The VA has extended this privilege across state lines.

During the announcement of the new legislation, the Veterans Administration also introduced VA Video Connect, a video conferencing app created especially for veterans and VA care providers. The innovations allow care providers to deliver services no matter where physicians or patients are located.

The Veterans Administration collaborated closely with the White House Office of American Innovation and the Department of Justice to draft the new law. They partnered from the original incarnation of the law as the "Authority of Healthcare Providers to Practice Telehealth" to its new name called "Anywhere to Anywhere." The ruling is essential for supporting initiatives designed to improve the accessibility and quality of healthcare services for veterans.

There’s no question that telemedicine is incredibly innovative, and changing healthcare as we know it. Beyond that, of great importance is telemedicine’s wonderful potential for disaster planning and recovery efforts.

Telemedicine has proved its potential to transform the healthcare industry in many ways. Doctors can prescribe medication and treatments without ever seeing their patients face to face. Industry experts and experienced professionals can communicate with more people outside their usual network, offering services and guidance.

Happy Thanksgiving

The first American Thanksgiving took place in October -- not November --1621. Pilgrims still new to America wanted to celebrate their first harvest in their new country with the Wampanoag Indians, with whom they maintained peace and good will for many decades. New land meant new ways to do good for others, and themselves..

Nearly 400 years have passed since that first Thanksgiving, and this year, those of us with the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) are thankful for the opportunities we have to work with you, and do good for others, and ourselves.

Nearing the end of 2018, some of us jotted down our thoughts about what we are thankful for this year. We hope you enjoy our comments, and wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving!

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