COVID-19 and stay at home orders forced many practices, hospitals, urgent care, and clinics to turn their operations upside down overnight. Patients were canceling appointments left and right due to "the fear of the waiting room". Many primary care providers were seeing upwards of 80% cancellations.
Last month, Psych Associates (Springfield, MO), where I practice, went to an “online office,” which meant every provider in our practice set up a virtual therapy room in their home. We’re all trained up on Telehealth, so ready, here we go!
I’m a newbie to the world of virtual therapy so I really didn’t know what to expect, but I’m brave in my work, so I trusted that everything would work out fine.
The threat of coming in contact with the deadly coronavirus Covid-19 was real, and of course we all wanted to stay well, and keep our clients well, so we acted quickly. Luckily, it was a smooth transition.
Starting off as a fellow with the Arizona Telemedicine Program this past June, it got me more and more interested in the specific jargon of telemedicine. At first I often used terms like “telehealth” and “telemedicine” interchangeably but as I got more heavily involved in the literature I realized they are two distinct terms. Telehealth is a more general term encompassing a larger umbrella of services, like hospital administration and training via technology; while telemedicine specifically refers to clinical services provided at a distance.
My introduction to telemedicine was in 8th grade, while I was taking a medical science course with Dr. Weinstein, to prove that the medical school curriculum could be integrated earlier into the American school system. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is one of the coolest applications of technology, why aren’t more people using it?”
It wasn’t until my sophomore year at the UofA I reconnected with Dr. Weinstein and started to explore the answer to that question I asked many years ago. As I continued to work with Dr. Weinstein I began to realize the answer to that question was more nuanced than my 8th grade self would have thought. By analyzing the Arizona Telemedicine Council (ATC), which is a non-statutory advisory council to the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), for a paper on the relationship between telemedicine and governance it shed light on the legal, financial, and practical barriers of telemedicine.
By Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, FCAP, FATA on Mar 19, 2020
Online Course: “Developing Telemedicine Services”
The national award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), headquartered at the University of Arizona Health Sciences in Tucson, Arizona, will conduct a major, online training program regarding the COVID-19 pandemic for health-care providers, administrators, and educators, titled: “Developing Telemedicine Services,” on Monday, March 23, 2020. “Telemedicine is a key capability for healthcare providers and the community they serve to slow the spread of the COVID-19,” notes Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, a pioneer in telemedicine and founding director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program. The ATP has been producing in-person telemedicine and telehealth training programs for the past 20 years. Thousands of individuals, from hundreds of healthcare organizations, have attended these programs and given them high marks. “Now, in response to the COVID-19 pardemic, we are taking the course online for the first time.” He added, “Obviously, this will open the session to a far larger audience, filling an urgent need at this time.”
Southwest Telehealth Resource Center • University of Arizona Health Sciences • P.O. Box 245105 • Tucson, AZ 85724-5105
This website was made possible by grant number G22RH30360 from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS