The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

Hushabye Nursery will provide compassionate, non-stigmatizing care to at-risk mom’s and babies during their stay and address their psychosocial needs after discharge.

Tara Sundem, RN, NNP-BC, MS, used to think the best place for babies going through withdrawal was not with their parents. Sundem admits that she, like many of her colleagues, used to judge parents when newborns in her neonatal ICU were going through withdrawal.

Sundem now believes she was wrong after studying Opiate Use Disorder (OUD) and says the best place for these newborns almost always is with their parents, even if those parents are not yet drug free. We should be able to ‘think out of the box’ to ensure the biological parents are able to ‘parent’. As long as it is safe, babies should be with their parents. She learned that the entire family needs to be involved to improve outcomes.

What we call telemedicine nowadays actually started in the 1950s, when a few hospitals and university medical facilities started to look for methods and techniques that would allow them to share images and information via telephone. In one of the first instances of the successful usage of telemedicine, two healthcare facilities in Pennsylvania, U.S. transferred radiological images over the telephone. In the initial days, telemedicine was majorly used for connecting doctors working in one location to specialists somewhere far away.

This method was hugely beneficial to patients or populations in rural areas, where specialists were not easily available. As the systems and equipment used for connecting healthcare practitioners across different regions became more expensive and complex over the next few years, especially with the development of technologically advanced devices, the use of the approach started becoming limited. However, the advent of the internet and the subsequent emergence of video transmission and smart devices completely transformed the practice of telemedicine and made this technique affordable and convenient.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Children's Postinfectious Autoimmune Encephalopathy (CPAE) multispecialty team at the University of Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center was challenged with the undertaking of how to safely continue clinical care.  The team responded quickly with a telemedicine model of care that did not compromise the quality of clinical care, while adding additional benefits to family members and the center. 

The CPAE Center was developed in partnership with Banner – University Medicine. The CPAE Center of Excellence is the first of its kind in the world to integrate clinical care, education and research.  We treat disorders such as Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS), Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infection (PANDAS) and Sydenham chorea.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  A day that will forever live in infamy.  I helped shut down our information technology office, located eight miles east of our main campus, just the day before.  That morning, an Office of Civil Rights memo was delivered to me, outlining the “new era” of telemedicine, with its various options.  These included popular video chat applications including FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and Skype.  I chuckled when it recommended not using TikTok.  I thought to myself “Wow, this is a game-changer.”  And then it was forwarded to me again.  And again.  And again…

Seeking a virtual care platform? Here are seven critical questions to ask your vendor before you make your choice.

Telemedicine has inevitably reached its pinnacle during the recent public health emergency. Virtual care has evolved as the new norm in the healthcare industry. However, it is subject to technological barriers and limitations, which must necessarily be addressed to deliver quality care.

Start with these vital questions with your telemedicine vendor to hone in on the best telehealth solution for your practice:

The Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) has been hosting in-person telemedicine training events for over 20 years with approximately 1000 participants.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of that changed seemingly overnight, and not only for ATP, but for many organizations across all industries.  As the Distance Education and Event Coordinator for ATP, it was time to think outside the box and get creative. We already had a platform for hosting hour-long webinars, but could we transition an all-day, traditionally in-person training program utilizing the same platform?

COVID-19 has induced a hike in telemedicine adoption, and its application to primary care is expected to last forever.

The healthcare providers in the U.S. have been investing paramount efforts in making more services available via telehealth for years. However, the real value of telemedicine has only been realized in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with strong dictates of social distancing and economic lockdown. COVID-19 has essentially paved the path for an inevitable telemedicine revolution, pushing it forward by a decade, if not more.

Telemedicine has always been deemed inadequate in delivering quality care due to the lack of in-person contact. Primary care has always rested on the assumption that telemedicine would be unsatisfactory and inefficient because it lacks in-person contact. This myth has been exposed to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic; it’s safer, more convenient, and much faster than the traditional primary care delivery models.


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