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The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

Baby in neonatal unit

Neonatologist Greg Warda, MD, arrived at Yuma Regional Medical Center 15 years ago, the hospital's only full-time neonatologist, and medical director of its neonatal intensive-care unit.

Back then, Warda's most urgent challenge was determining when a sick baby could remain in the Yuma hospital or needed to be transported to a larger hospital where multiple specialists could oversee the baby's care.

ATP Telemedicine training

Although requirements vary for each health profession, in order to maintain licensure, most require some sort of continuing education (CE) to demonstrate competency and insure quality of care. 

Health professionals typically need to take time away from work and personal obligations to obtain continuing education credits, which means meeting these requirements can be fraught with challenging barriers. This is especially true for those practicing medicine in rural communities where opportunities can be very limited. Finding the time to attend educational events is problematic and is compounded by adding more time and expense for traveling to such events, particularly in a rural setting where backup support can be inadequate. 

Since the University of Arizona Medical Center (UAMC) is a teaching hospital, the Arizona Telemedicine Program is in an exceptionally unique position to support health professionals at telemedicine member sites achieve their objectives. The program provides a wide variety of educational opportunities via the content provided to students pursuing a career in health care. 

Telestroke - stroke care with technology

In 2005, patients who were hospitalized with an ischemic stroke in Tucson or Phoenix were 10 times as likely to receive potentially life-saving medical care as patients treated at hospitals in rural Arizona.

Today, patients in rural Arizona have as good or even better chance of receiving the best possible treatment – a “clot-busting” drug called tPA - compared with stroke patients in the state’s two largest cities.

The change came about because of the Telestroke Program at the Mayo Clinic – Phoenix.

Dr. Ana Maria Lopez leads a !Vida! session

¡Vida! emerged from work with breast cancer survivors who, despite five years or more since the breast cancer diagnosis, clearly articulated their goal not only to live, but to live well.

Named from the Spanish word meaning “life,” ¡Vida! is a monthly partner educational series for patients and their professional health care teams. Guided by a broad-based Community Partnership Group, ¡Vida! has been proactively addressing the identified needs of patients and their families across the state of Arizona.

While ¡Vida! originally began with a focus on breast cancer survivorship, the series has evolved to include topics related to lifestyle medicine, wellness, and advocacy with the overarching goal of engaging Arizona’s citizens in their own health!

Care Beyond Walls and Wires - Telemedicine Home-Health Monitoring Program

For one man struggling with congestive heart failure, it means not feeling alone anymore. 

For another patient – a woman in kidney failure who was too sick to be placed on the transplant waiting list – it has so improved her health that she is now eligible for a donor kidney.

Both have benefited from an innovative program of Flagstaff-based Northern Arizona Healthcare and a partner hospital, Flagstaff Medical Center. More recently, Verde Valley Medical Center in Cottonwood has signed on.

Called Care Beyond Walls and Wires, it’s a telemedicine-based, home-health monitoring program that has significantly improved the health of most participating patients, while reducing emergency room visits and hospital admissions and readmissions, and decreasing the length of stay for those who still require hospitalization.

Dr. Ronald S. Weinstein works with a group of students

A home run, or a “four-bagger” in entrepreneur-speak, in telemedicine or telehealth is: 1) a patient service which is equivalent to an in-person service in terms of effectiveness including patient and provider satisfaction; 2) is sustainable; 3) is cost effective; and 4) is a service that migrates into the mainstream of the US healthcare delivery system. 

Telemedicine home runs have been a long time in coming.

teleophthalmology - doctors performing exam

We know that diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in working age adults.

We know that it’s more common among Native Americans than any other ethnic group.

We also know that only half of Native Americans get an annual eye exam, which is key to effective treatment of diabetic retinopathy, a disease that can eventually lead to blindness.

It’s a public health crisis – and one that telemedicine has made great progress toward resolving.

“Telemedicine is pivotal for diabetic retinopathy,” says Mark B. Horton, OD, MD, director of the U.S. Indian Health Service’s multi-state teleophthalmology program, a collaboration with the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

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