The Southwest Telehealth Resource Center

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Have you ever thought about what it would take to get a telemedicine program started? What aspects need to be considered? Where can personnel get trained? Are there existing protocols for conducting clinical consultations? Are there practice guidelines? Is telemedicine reimbursable – where and by whom?

The questions are often quite overwhelming, but there is help!

As the nation moves a step closer to implementing health care reform, telehealth has never been more important than it is today. It can impact the health care system in terms of cost, quality and accessibility.

About the SWTRC

The Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (SWTRC) is one of 14 national Telehealth Resource Centers. The centers were initiated through federal grants from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, which is part of the Office of Rural Health Policy.

The SWTRC covers Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. Its primary goal is to advance the effective use of telemedicine services throughout the Southwest. The Resource Center draws on expertise and experience of the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), which has been providing telemedicine services throughout the state of Arizona since 1996.

Breaking Into Telemedicine

So, how can the SWTRC help you enter the telemedicine arena? Unfortunately we cannot provide funding, but we can provide help, advice, training, and a wealth of other tips and tools for getting started.

We are not limited however, to just those interested in starting programs, but serve existing programs looking to expand or optimize their telemedicine programs and services.

SWTRC Training

One of the main resources we provide is training. We have two 1-day training courses where you can learn all about the basics of telehealth.

The first course is designed to give a broad overview of a variety of telemedicine topics including telecommunications, infrastructure, business and sustainability, evaluation, and equipment demonstrations. This one is called “Developing a Telemedicine Program” and is geared to anyone interested in telemedicine, including healthcare providers, engineers, business managers, site coordinators, and evaluators.

The other course is called “Telemedicine Applications” and is more directed at healthcare providers, but is certainly of benefit to anyone else as well. It offers a more detailed approach with in-depth coverage of clinical applications. 

If you just want a taste of what telemedicine is all about you can visit our website and view a series of video modules that cover a number of key topics from a basic Telemedicine Overview to an Overview of Clinical Applications, Facility Design, Evaluation and much more! There are even some of the modules in Spanish, Navajo, French and Mandarin!

Tools and Templates

The SWTRC can also provide you with a variety of templates for such important aspects of setting up a program as telemedicine readiness assessments, telemedicine encounter forms, and clinical protocols.

We work closely with the American Telemedicine Association and can provide you with copies of a series of practice guidelines that have been developed for telemedicine. These are very useful for helping healthcare providers who are not sure of what to do in a telemedicine encounter learn about the basics of telepresenting, telemedicine “etiquette”, and basic rules of imaging, data security, and patient privacy issues.

If you are considering getting into telemedicine and need help please contact Elizabeth Krupinski or Kris Erps for more information.

You can also contact any member of our Help Desk if you have a specific topic or question that needs to be answered.

About the Author

Elizabeth A. Krupinski's picture

Dr. Krupinski is a professor at Emory University in the Department of Radiology & Imaging Sciences and is vice-chair of research. She is also Associate Director of Evaluation for the Arizona Telemedicine Program and Director of the federally-funded Southwest Telehealth Resource Center, headquartered at the University of Arizona. She is past president of the American Telemedicine Association, president of the Medical Image Perception Society, past chair of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine, and President of the Society for Education and the Advancement of Research in Connected Health. She serves regularly as a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and other federal, state, and international funding agencies and has served as a member of a number of Food and Drug Administration review panels. Dr. Krupinski has been doing research, and publishing scholarly telemedicine papers, for over 35 years. Dr. Krupinski frequently commutes back and forth “virtually” between Tucson and Atlanta over Zoom.

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