The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

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).

Finding a telemedicine partner

Need a doctor? Just use your tablet to see one via video—your insurance company may even pay for it. Or go to your nearest pharmacy—or maybe a kiosk at your workplace—for a telemedicine visit. This new service model is much more convenient, faster and cheaper than heading to an emergency department or urgent care center, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds.

Doctors watching distance learning presentation

The Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) is known for improving health care in rural communities, saving lives and lowering costs. It’s also known as a leader in distance learning and continuing education programs, developed to meet the needs of patients, physicians and other health professionals.

Educational events such as medical grand rounds are attended “virtually” by physicians, nurses, dentists, therapists, emergency personnel, and other health professionals located throughout Arizona, via videoconferencing or live web streaming. Events offering continuing medical education (CME) credit for physicians and continuing education (CE) credit for nurses are both available. Thirty percent of participants who have attended virtually have received continuing education credits totaling more than 13,000 credit hours since 2000.

Doctor speaking with a pregnant patient through a virtual visit on a tablet

As a physician with over 20 years practicing medicine, I've always been an advocate of strong doctor-patient relationships. The strength of that relationship is the core of high-quality patient care.

Contrary to what some physicians think, I believe telemedicine actually has the power to enhance and harness that relationship — if we use it in the right way. Some physicians argue that virtual care can't equate to an in-office visit. But anyone in the know about telemedicine understands why that argument just doesn't hold up. In fact, virtual visits can be a great way to build trust with patients and maintain continuity of care (by keeping patients in your practice and competing with retail health, for instance).

Arizona Telemedicine Program's T-Health Institute

Arizona Telemedicine Program's T-Health Institute opened in 2003 on the University of Arizona's Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. Its mission: to offer telemedicine and telehealth training, and to serve as a prototype e-classroom of the future.

The Institute is fulfilling its mission. More than 20 different organizations have used the amphitheater over the past 12 months, and not all are about medicine and health care.


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