The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

Telemedicine enables me

I hate telemedicine. Actually, to be more specific, I hate the word, telemedicine. It conjures visions of technology, not care—something futuristic, expensive, something only for people far away.

However, at it’s core, telemedicine is an opportunity to change how we care for each other by bringing people together in time, enabling “reassurance” when we or a loved one is most vulnerable.

Most people think of telemedicine as two people brought together over video for care. In healthcare there are advantages of video over voice. Looking another person in the eye, even via a monitor, provides the blink, the sense for the provider of the patient’s over all health. And for the patient, there is a sense of comfort, that the other person sees me, understands me. However, video alone is not the answer. 

To truly transform care, the technology has evolved, incorporating other forms of communication and workflow requirements. Texting and voice are the methods of choice for providers to talk to other providers and for providers to talk to patients. Workflow—the ability to schedule and to have comfort there will be someone to answer the “call”—is now part of the solution.

Telemedicine and Telehealth Service Provider Showcase Chairs

A long-recognized leader in telemedicine innovation, the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) is establishing another first.

ATP is joining forces with the Four Corners Telehealth Consortium and the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center to host the first-ever Telemedicine and Telehealth Service Provider Showcase, October 6th and 7th, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix.

The Service Provider Showcase (SPS) will bring together companies that provide medical specialty services using telemedicine technology to hospitals, clinics, health-care systems, private practices and other providers that want to offer these services to their patients.

“Our industry has reached critical mass,” said Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, director and co-founder of the ATP, president emeritus of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), honorary co-chair of SPS and a pioneer in the telemedicine field. “It’s time to create an environment in which service providers can gather with health-care providers and develop a shared agenda for the future.

fireman rescuing burn victim

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the Arizona Burn Center was one of hundreds of U.S. hospitals scrambling to get ready for the thousands of people who would be pulled from the burning wreckage of the World Trade Center.

At least, that was the hope. The reality, of course, is that almost none of the people who were at their desks or enjoying breakfast that morning at Windows on the World ever had a chance of being saved.

But out of that horrible day came the nation’s realization that terrorist attacks and other tragedies were no longer confined to the rest of the world. They could happen right here, to us.

And from that came a call to action – from federal and state governments, the American Burn Association and others – to build a system that could handle thousands of burn patients whenever the need occurred.

Pristine's HIPPA compliant Google Glass display at ATA 2014

The American Telemedicine Association’s annual trade show is touted as “the world’s largest” for telemedicine, telehealth and mhealth products and services.

For Janet Major, it’s like a trip to Disneyland.

“There’s just always a lot of really cool stuff: new trends, the latest and the greatest, last year’s latest and greatest upgraded to make it even better,” says Major, the Arizona Telemedicine Program’s associate director for facilities. “So yes, for me it absolutely is like going to Disneyland.”

Tipping telemedicine barriers

During the fall of 2011, I was selected to participate in the civic leader fellowship program put on by the Flinn-Brown Foundation. Not having aspirations for political office, I channeled my knowledge of healthcare with my passion for telehealth and jumped in headlong to fulfill the requirements of the program.

Each graduating fellow was charged with the responsibility to develop a common good project that served the citizens of Arizona. Each graduate was also assigned a mentor to help us on our journey. My mentor, Bob Smoldt, is the Chief Administrative Officer Emeritus for Mayo Clinic, Director of the ASU Healthcare Delivery and Policy Program and a great guy.

During initial meeting, I pitched Bob on different ideas that would improve healthcare delivery using telehealth technology. We reviewed existing barriers and quickly realized that to have the biggest impact, we needed a louder single-voice and some additional support. Bob solicited the help of Deni Cortese, Chief Executive Officer and President of Mayo Clinic, and Natalie Landman, PhD Associate Director for Projects at the ASU Healthcare Delivery and Policy Program (HCDPP).

Collectively, we decided to produce a barrier mitigation telemedicine white paper.

Elizabeth Krupinksi, Ronald S. Weinstein, Ana Maria Lopez

Despite the Affordable Care Act’s rocky roll-out last October, more than 7 million Americans have signed on for health-care coverage through the Act as of March 31. Another 3 million have enrolled in state Medicaid plans, largely due to a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that subsidizes states’ expansions of Medicaid eligibility.

A major concern accompanying implementation of the ACA is the demand these millions of newly insured will place on the nation’s already inadequate physician supply.

But an article in the March 2014 issue of The American Journal of Medicine notes that advances in telemedicine, telehealth and mHealth (mobile health) services can help compensate for the physician shortage while meeting the ACA’s goal for increased health-care efficiency.

eICU telemedicine nurse and patient

An ICU nurse at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley checked in on one of her patients. He was on a ventilator and his vital signs all looked fine. But the nurse had a feeling something was wrong. She contacted the Banner doctor who also was monitoring the patient from more than 800 miles away.


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