Inaugural Flagstaff ATP Telemedicine Training: Sellout Crowd and Great Reviews

The inaugural Northern Arizona presentation of the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) and Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (SWTC) telemedicine training conference was a resounding success, with a sellout crowd and nationally recognized speakers representing several high-profile Arizona telehealth programs. The ATP and SWTRC presented the full-day “Arizona Telemedicine Course: Applications, Infrastructure, Reimbursement” at Flagstaff Medical Center on Tuesday, April 1.

“I think it’s well rounded and I appreciate the opportunity to have this in northern Arizona,” said Cheri Wells, Director of Behavioral Health for Flagstaff-based Native Americans for Community Action, which started a telebehavioral health progr
am about a month ago. “I’ve learned a lot about the big picture of telemedicine and its administration as well. I really appreciate learning about all the resources that are available online and through ATP.”

The conference provided an overview of telemedicine as well as an in-depth look at clinical applications. Designed for those who are new to telemedicine as well as those interested in expanding the scope of their telemedicine services, it included discussions of:

  • Telemedicine, telehealth, and mobile health applications – building a successful telemedicine program (Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, ATP Director )
  • ¡Vida!, a video-based educational series for breast cancer patients and their healthcare teams (Ana Maria Lopez, MD, ATP Medical Director)
  • Using videoconferencing to teach northern Arizona providers how to provide Hepatitis C care (Sean Clendaniel, MPH, Director of Education and Research, North Country HealthCare)
  • Teleneurology and telestroke (Bart Demaerschalk, MD, FRCPC, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Mayo Clinic Telestroke and Teleneurology Program)
  • How to evaluate telemedicine programs and where to find resources and guidelines (Elizabeth Krupinski, PhD, ATP Associate Director for Evaluation and SWTRC Director)
  • Selecting telemedicine technology (Gigi Sorenson, RN, MSN, Director of Telehealth, Northern Arizona Healthcare & Janet Major, ATP Associate Director for Facilities)
  • Business aspects of telemedicine (Donald Graf, Director of Telemedicine, UnitedHealthCareTM)
  • Teleradiology and how to select a teleradiology vendor (Tim Hunter, MD, Professor, University of Arizona Department of Medical Imaging)
  • Telecardiology and telediabetes outreach (Donna Zazworsky, RN, MS, CCM, FAAN, Vice President of Community Health and Continuum Care, Carondelet Health Network)
  • Telespychiatry (Sara Gibson, MD, Medical Director of Telemedicine, Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority)
  • Telemedicine best practices and tips for success panel (Sorenson; Weinstein; Lopez; Hunter; Krupinski; Sue Sisley, MD, ATP Associate Director, Interprofessional Education; Mike Holcomb; ATP Associate Director, IT; Nancy Rowe, ATP Associate Director, Outreach)

Attendee Lynn Bedonie, Telemedicine/School Health Specialist for Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation, has been involved in telemedicine for more than 16 years. “We were one of the original charter sites for the Arizona Telemedicine Program,” she said. “So I’ve been there from the beginning, from when we used modems to now—and everything in between.” Bedonie came to the training to learn more about billing and teleneurology. “A lot of it was really informative, even though I’ve been to several of these,” she said. “The information changes all the time.”

The conference attracted 84 attendees from private and governmental healthcare systems and hospitals; community health centers and behavioral health clinics; tribal health departments and medical centers; and commercial telemedicine medical services providers. Participants included CEOs and other senior leadership; doctors, nurses, and other clinicians; IT directors and staff; administrators at all levels; and health educators, with experience ranging from clinicians just starting to think about 

using telemedicine in their private practices to hospital senior administrators who want to add sites and services to their already successful telemedicine programs.

Gigi Sorenson, Northern Arizona Healthcare Telehealth Director and one of the speakers, said, “I came hoping to learn more about other programs across the state and also to hear the needs of the state.” She heads “Care Beyond Walls and Wires,” which has improved patient health and reduced hospital readmission rates through home monitoring systems. “I thought it was a very comprehensive program,” she said, citing the opportunity for casual conversation and questions at the end of every presentation as the most helpful part of the conference. “I’m very happy that it was held in Flagstaff, and grateful for the opportunity to showcase all the work that’s being done in northern Arizona.”

Northern Arizona Healthcare was one of the co-sponsors of the conference, along with North Country HealthCare and Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority. All three entities currently operate successful telehealth programs based in Flagstaff and, together with the ATP, they form the Northern Arizona Telemedicine Alliance, a partnership aimed at encouraging and enhancing telemedicine services in the northern part of the state. The SWTRC also was a sponsor. Director Elizabeth Krupinski, PhD, said, “The event was a huge success! Participants were eager to learn and the number and depth of the questions being asked was impressive. Telemedicine is clearly a core part of healthcare in Arizona and will continue to grow.”

This marks the first time the training program has been offered onsite in northern Arizona, but not the last. “We will be offering this program in Flagstaff at least annually from now on,” said ATP Director Ronald S. Weinstein, MD. “The response was overwhelming; people were wait-listed. We want to ensure that all those who are interested get a chance to attend this training.” Sorenson agreed: “You could see by the participation in the auditorium that repeating this at least on an annual basis is well worth the time and effort.”

Dr. Ronald S. Weinstein leading a Q&A session during the Arizona Telemedicine Program’s training session in McGee Auditorium in Flagstaff, Arizona



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About the Author

Nancy Rowe is Associate Director for Public Policy and Outreach for the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) and Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (SWTRC), where she is a resource and frequent presenter on telehealth policy and reimbursement. Before joining the ATP, Ms. Rowe was director of telemedicine for Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (now Health Choice Arizona) for more than 12 years. She is a member of the Center for Telehealth and eHealth Law Advisory Board, a past chair of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) Business and Finance Special Interest Group and a workgroup member for the ATA telemental health guidelines.