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The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

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.

Southwest Telehealth Resource Center logo

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!

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