UA telehealth pioneer sees program thriving

When it comes to healthcare in rural areas, the overarching question is how to level the playing field between geographically isolated healthcare facilities and their urban counterparts, says Ronald S. Weinstein, director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program at the University of Arizona.

That’s exactly why the Arizona Telemedicine Program was launched, he says.

Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. When the telemedicine industry began, the majority of the companies were university-based, but the trend has since shifted into the private-sector, he says. 

“And I think that where you’re going to see acceleration, or we are seeing acceleration, are the large integrated healthcare systems, which have lots of rural sites and lots of technology,” says Weinstein. “They’re trying to level the quality throughout their entire systems.”

The Arizona Telemedicine Program, a branch of the UA’s Health Sciences Department, was co-founded in 1996 by Weinstein and Robert Burns, a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. The program is designed to provide telemedicine services, distance learning, training in informatics (the science of processing data), and telemedicine technology assessment capabilities to communities throughout the state.

The array of specialties in telemedicine can be broken down into three major application categories, Weinstein explains: gap services, where, for instance, a rural hospital will have remote access to a specialist who may not work in-house; urgent services, which can save lives remotely when time is of the essence; and mandated services, such as entitlement health services that are required by law for prisons and jails.

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here. Originally published on Sept. 22, 2017.


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