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The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

When you hear the phrase “telehealth connections,” you probably think of the literal connection—through wires or Wi-Fi, through dedicated circuits or the internet—between the patient and the health-care provider.

But one telemedicine program is taking pains to ensure that telehealth includes a strong human connection, too.

The Phoenix Veterans Health Care System (PVAHCS) is not just providing health care from behind the walls of its main facility in downtown Phoenix. The PVAHCS has a mobile clinic – also known as a mobile medical unit (MMU) – that is being deployed to rural parts of Arizona to provide various health care services.

Home telehealth programs can help patients manage chronic disease, while receiving education and daily guidance from a nurse care coordinator or other health professional.

For some reason, however, many patients in home telehealth programs do not adhere to daily check-ins.

I am the telehealth specialist and facility e-consult coordinator with the Phoenix Veterans Administration Health Care System. As part of my studies toward a doctoral degree in nursing, I have found a potential solution.

For a lot of seniors, trying to adapt to new technology – especially when it stands between patient and physician – is stressful at best.

But the Phoenix Veterans Administration Health Care System has found a more user-friendly way to connect patients and doctors through telemedicine.

The Phoenix VA was one of the centers chosen by the National VA Telehealth Technology Office to test Virtual Medical Rooms (VMRs) to connect patients to their clinicians.

Telemediquette (ˈteləˌ ˈmedəkət) noun: the art and science of developing telemedicine protocols for technology used to communicate medical information at a distance.

Medical etiquette is defined as the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other.

Pediatric nurse practitioner Amber Wright schedules initial patient visits for 90 minutes. A follow-up visit is 60 minutes, or sometimes 45.

The reason for these longer-than-usual appointments is that Wright is certified in the field of developmental pediatrics, in which she focuses her practice on children with developmental disabilities.

The healthcare market is changing. Patients’ expectations of convenience and quality are fueling their healthcare purchase decisions. Meanwhile, retail clinics, urgent cares, and direct-to-consumer telemedicine companies are entering the market in droves, giving patients more options outside the primary care relationship. As a consequence, health systems are finding patient engagement increasingly important.


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