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Southwest Telehealth Resource Center

Need help getting started in telemedicine? Want to expand an existing telemedicine program? Or maybe you just want to find out more about what telemedicine really is. We can help you!

The Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (SWTRC) was created through a federal grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, which is part of the Office of Rural Health Policy, to advance the effective use of telemedicine services throughout the Southwest (http://www.southwesttrc.org/). It is one of fourteen Telehealth Resource Centers in the United States, each serving a distinct geographic region (http://www.telehealthresourcecenter.org/).

The SWTRC serves hospitals, clinics, public health offices, and private-practice healthcare providers in the broader Southwest region. We assist start-up telehealth programs in their development and serve as a resource for existing programs regarding changes in technology and other issues affecting telehealth in the Southwest region.

Telemedicine has been shown empirically to improve access to quality medical care for many patients living in rural and medically underserved areas. The SWTRC draws expertise from the internationally recognized Arizona Telemedicine Program, which has been providing telemedicine services throughout the state of Arizona since 1996.

Telemedicine is often seen as just another tool to provide medical services, but there are unique aspects requiring dedicated training in special techniques/technologies. Obtaining advice about technology, business plans, and sustainability are challenges that make it difficult for practices to utilize the promise of telemedicine. These problems are particularly difficult in the Southwest as there are numerous isolated, medically underserved communities further isolated from telemedicine by cultural/language barriers (i.e., Native American communities).

What can we do for you? We provide two 1-day training courses in telehealth (http://www.telemedicine.arizona.edu/app/training). One of them is on “Developing a Telemedicine Program” and is designed to give a broad overview of a variety of telemedicine topics including telecommunications, infrastructure, business and sustainability, evaluation, and equipment demonstrations. The second is on “Telemedicine Applications” and offers a more detailed approach for any telemedicine program, providing a more in-depth look at the clinical applications of a telehealth program.

For those who do not have the time to devote to a full-day course, a number of our key learning modules are available on-line (http://www.southwesttrc.org/online_education) in English, Spanish, Navajo, French and Mandarin! These are a great way to get a short introduction to telemedicine.

We have lots of resources, including templates for telemedicine readiness assessments, telemedicine encounter forms, clinical protocols, standards and guidelines for various clinical specialties, policy and legal information, and a variety of toolkits that will help in setting up a successful program.

Let us know how we can help you! Contact Elizabeth Krupinski (krupinski@radiology.arizona.edu) or Kris Erps (kerps@telemedicine.arizona.edu) for more information or contact any member of our Help Desk if you have a specific topic or question that needs to be answered (http://www.southwesttrc.org/help-desk). 

About the Author

Elizabeth Krupinski, Ph.D. is a Professor at Emory University in the Department of Radiology & Imaging Sciences and is Vice-chair of Research.. She is Associate Director of Evaluation for the Arizona Telemedicine Program and Director of the SWTRC. She has published extensively in these areas, and has presented at conferences nationally and internationally. She is Past Chair of the SPIE Medical Imaging Conference, Past President of the American Telemedicine Association, President of the Medical Image Perception Society, and Past Chair of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine. She serves on a number of editorial boards for both radiology and telemedicine journals and is the Co-Editor of the Journal of Telemedicine & Telecare.

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