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Happy Thanksgiving, From the Arizona Telemedicine Program!

Looking back over 2017, we see a lot of reasons to be thankful. We want to share them with you, our friends and colleagues. You’re a big part of why we are thankful this year.

Here are some of the others:

  • In the March 14 edition of the journal Circulation, the American Heart Association published a Scientific Statement affirming the use of telemedicine in pediatric cardiology. “In most cases, the potential advantages of telemedicine in pediatric cardiology are numerous, including improving access to care, improving quality and saving lives,” the heart association stated. “In addition, this appears to be occurring with enhanced patient and practitioner satisfaction and cost-efficient medicine.”
  • In April, the FDA approved telepathology for primary pathology diagnoses. Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, founding director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), invented the technology 30 years earlier.

Elizabeth Krupinski, PhD, professer emerita at the University of Arizona and former president of the American Telemedicine Association, said of the FDA’s approval: “Digital pathology has enormous potential.  Its approval by the FDA comes decades after the transformation of radiology into a digital imaging specialty. Potentially, 50 million pathology glass slides will be digitized annually in the United States alone. The potential market for telepathology is huge.”

  • In May, the Federation of State Medical Boards announced “a watershed moment for the expansion of telemedicine,” with 19 states passing legislation to adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, allowing physicians to be licensed to practice medicine in any Compact state.
  • Also in May, our colleagues with the University of Arizona (UA) College of Nursing in Tucson launched the nation’s first telehealth training program for students pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
  • In September, our Southwest Telehealth Resource Center received a $975,000 cooperative agreement grant from the federal Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, a division of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“This grant will enable the University of Arizona to leverage its expertise in health care and its nationally recognized leadership in telemedicine for the benefit of not just the people of Arizona, but people across the Southwest,” said UA President Robert C. Robbins, MD. “Telehealth is an incredibly important use of technology as we work to create broader access to quality health care, and it is a wonderful example of how the UA can lead. I am very excited to see how this program continues to thrive.”

  • Also in September, ATP partnered with the Arizona Center for Rural Health to create a virtual chart rounds program with the goal of increasing patient access to local rheumatology care, by linking with the University of New Mexico’s Project ECHO – Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes.  It’s a knowledge-sharing program that uses videoconferencing to link top rheumatology specialists in hub cities to doctors in rural Arizona, which has been short on rheumatology care for years.  Amy Waer, MD, ATP medical director, was awarded a $17,700 grant from Lilly to launch the program.
  • With GlobalMed as our conference partner, our third Telemedicine and Telehealth Service Provider Showcase, held in Phoenix Oct. 2-3, was a great success. We had 13 plenary sessions, 29 speakers, 38 poster presentations, 40 vendors, and more than 400 attendees. Watch for news of SPS 2018!
  • Also in October, we attended the Regional Center for Border Health groundbreaking for a new School of Health Professions in Somerton, Ariz., near Yuma, close to the Arizona-California border. The school is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • The online journal mHealth Intelligence reported in early November that Beginning in 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will enact new payment rules to support “clinicians who leverage remote monitoring tools, such as wearables and smart devices at home, and use patient-generated health data in care coordination and management.” The article said the new rules suggest “what many hope is a trend toward CMS support for mHealth and telehealth technology.”

These are just some of the events and advances in telehealth and telemedicine for which we are thankful this year.

Again, we are thankful for you, our friends and colleagues, and we send our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

About the Author

Jane Erikson's picture

Jane Erikson joined the staff of the Arizona Telemedicine Program in April 2013. She was already familiar with the program, as she previously wrote about the program during her nearly 20 years of covering health care for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. Jane has lived in Arizona most of her life and is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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