The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

2015-2016 AZ Rural Health Association Board of Directors (photo courtesy of Alison Hughes)

Only 10 percent of the nation's doctors work in rural areas, where 25 percent of Americans live. The Arizona Rural Health Association is looking toward university-bound Arizonans and the Arizona Telemedicine Program as two critically important solutions.

Image depicting Health devices are increasingly “connected”

From connected refrigerators that display the latest family photos to connected buttons that instantly place an order for laundry detergent when you press them, the Internet of Things is vast and growing rapidly. Health care is not immune to this new connected fever. Health care leaders and innovators are quickly developing connected health things that offer powerful new ways to care for people.

The Arizona Telemedicine Program often hosts interactive tours between Phoenix and Tucson.

Like most Americans, Janet Major is thankful today for her family, friends, and all the good things in her life. One of those good things is working at a job she loves. 

Janet is associate director for facilities and distance learning outreach for the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP). She’s been with ATP since 1997, when the first telemedicine site was installed at what is now called Maricopa Community Health Center in Nogales, AZ. Janet was on the team that installed it.

Over the past 18 years she has traveled throughout Arizona, helping to grow the ATP network that now links with more than 150 healthcare sites statewide. She also serves as vice chair, and chair elect, of the American Telemedicine Association’s Technology Special Interest Group, and is a board member representing telehealth with the U.S. Distance Learning Association. 

Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center located in Show Low, Arizona.

Show Low is a city of about 11,000 in the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona, a summer vacation haven. The city got its name after a high-stakes poker game in which one of the players met the other’s challenge to “show low” with a deuce of clubs. The winner’s take was a 100,000-acre ranch. The game is said to have been played by “early settlers” of the city, which was founded in 1870.

But Show Low is becoming better known today for its Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center, an 89-bed hospital serving a 3,300 square mile area. Services offered include a level-two nursery; cardiac care; home health care; general, vascular and plastic surgery; a cancer center that offers radiation and medical oncology; and wound care and hyperbaric center.

Panel discussion (l to r) Gigi Sorenson, Dr. Bart Demaerschalk, Dr. Sara Gibson, Dr. Robert Groves, Dr. Jeff Lisse, with Dr. Ronald Weinstein moderating the session.

Did you know that telestroke isn’t solely about determining whether a patient is having an ischemic stroke and needs a clot-busting drug? Or that telepsychiatrists feel that establishing a doctor-patient relationship via telemedicine (never meeting their patients in person) works well? Or that Arizona law requires informed consent before a patient can receive healthcare services through telemedicine?

These are just a few things participants learned at the daylong “Arizona Telemedicine Course: Applications, Model Programs, and Secrets for Success,” held October 9, 2015 at Flagstaff Medical Center.

Dr. Shea consults with a remote hospice patient via telemedicine.

I am an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, College of Nursing, a full-time position that includes research in my chosen field of health care systems and informatics, in which I have a PhD.

I also work one day a week as a hospice nurse, providing palliative care, which is focused on comfort and quality of life for patients nearing the end of life.

The “hands-on” care that is the hallmark of palliative care is often perceived to be in opposition to the “hi-tech” world of informatics. My recent experiences have shown that’s not the case.

Dr. Conrad Clemens uses real-time video conferencing and digital stethoscope technology to evaluate a child's asthma.

Each weekday morning at 20 Tucson elementary schools, more than 260 children with asthma report to their school nurse or health aid. Each child is given their own corticosteroid inhaler, inhales the medication, then returns to class.

The children are part of a multi-year, NIH-funded study of an asthma prevention program that is school-based for a number of reasons. The study was launched in the fall of 2014 in 20 schools in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD).


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