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Another Survey to Fill Out! Why Bother?

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!

Arizona is a very diverse state and the telemedicine activity around the state is just as diverse. Just to whet your appetite for finding out more – and to provide some incentive for you or someone at your institution to complete the next round of our survey – here are some early results from the first round.

  • Of respondents using telehealth, 60% are providing and 47% are receiving telehealth services.
  • For those proving telemedicine services, 56% use their own providers, 33% a combination of their own and outsourced providers, and 11% outsource providers.
  • The most common services provided overall were those related to behavioral/mental health, including behavioral/mental health, addiction, psychiatry, psychology, and substance abuse.
  • Primary care and diabetes were the next most common telehealth services provided.
  • The specialties organizations are considering offering are similar, with behavioral/mental health applications leading the way, including psychology and substance abuse. The top two benefits of telemedicine noted were fewer referrals of patients out to other healthcare systems and improvement in provider satisfaction, followed by improvement in patient satisfaction, improved medication adherence, increased contact with patients, and improvement in patient health outcomes.
  • Some challenges in terms of providing or expanding services include: bandwidth costs increased, champion left, lost outsourced/contracted teleservices provider, not enough interested providers, not enough patient demand/interest, not getting reimbursed at a high enough rate, not getting reimbursed at all, and providers did not respond well to it.
  • For those not currently proving telemedicine services or not planning to expand them, the top three reasons were: we do not know if the services would be reimbursed, services are planned but we are not ready to implement, and we do not have the staff resources to implement these programs.

As we compile these data and build a picture of telemedicine and telehealth use and challenges in Arizona, we plan to disseminate the results and use them to educate healthcare providers/institutions, legislators, and just about anyone else we can in order to help develop strategies to overcome these challenges and expand telemedicine services across the state to improve the health of our residents.

We will, in fact, be holding an Arizona Telemedicine Policy Symposium in Phoenix at our T-Health Institute auditorium on September 23rd and will present some of our survey results at that meeting, the goal of which is to report to our Arizona stakeholders and ATP members the current policy landscape of telemedicine in the state.

Please say YES to our survey: go to https://radiologyemory.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0kSFmsKP1Gq0Rwx now. The deadline for filling out the survey is Thursday, August 29. Data from the survey will be anonymized and presented only in the aggregate (no individual sites will be identified). Your contact information, if you choose to provide it, will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of our program.

Just one response per institution, please, and only Arizona organizations should participate, but your participation will be much appreciated! Telemedicine is the future of healthcare, but there is still a lot of work to be done and we need data to make it happen.

About the Author

Elizabeth A. Krupinski's picture

Elizabeth Krupinski, Ph.D. is a Professor at Emory University in the Department of Radiology & Imaging Sciences and is Vice-chair of Research.. She is Associate Director of Evaluation for the Arizona Telemedicine Program and Director of the SWTRC. She has published extensively in these areas, and has presented at conferences nationally and internationally. She is Past Chair of the SPIE Medical Imaging Conference, Past President of the American Telemedicine Association, President of the Medical Image Perception Society, and Past Chair of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine. She serves on a number of editorial boards for both radiology and telemedicine journals and is the Co-Editor of the Journal of Telemedicine & Telecare.


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