Copper Queen Community Hospital

At a time when small rural hospitals are increasingly closing their doors, Bisbee’s Copper Queen Community Hospital is bucking the trend.

One can point to a number of reasons why the 14-bed critical access hospital, 10 miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border, is able to maintain a healthy bottom line. One reason is Copper Queen’s robust use of telemedicine.

FDA Guidance and telemedicine device

Internet and Wirelessly Connected Medical Devices (“Devices”) are a cybersecurity concern of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as evidenced by guidance it issued in October 2014. The FDA Guidance does not have the force of law—but is highly influential in the medical device industry. Likely, failure of compliance will delay or prevent FDA approvals of such Devices.

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.


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