Telemedicine is the practice of medicine using a telecommunications system to provide clinical services at a geographically separate site. Service can be delivered in “real time” using interactive video conferencing, or through “store and forward” which relies on the transmission of images and data for review immediately or at later time.
The Arizona Telemedicine Program is a statewide program intended to increase access to healthcare to all residents in Arizona using telemedicine technologies. The Program’s telecommunications network spans the entire state and is linked to other telecommunications networks in Arizona. The Arizona Telemedicine Program also delivers continuing educational programming to healthcare providers on a regular basis, and provides the telecommunications link for administrative meetings.
The Arizona Telemedicine Program is open to all healthcare-related organizations in Arizona. There is a modest membership fee that is based on services desired. The Arizona Telemedicine Program can assist healthcare enterprises in assessing their needs and determine what services would most benefit the organization. The benefits of the program are numerous. For a complete overview of benefits see Arizona Telemedicine Program Network Services. Briefly, they include:
There are potentially a number of financial benefits in joining the Arizona Telemedicine Program. These include:
Members of the Arizona Telemedicine Program are responsible for providing a technical coordinator, who will attend the free training session. This individual should understand how to work the telemedicine equipment, assist participants in their use of the equipment, and distribute broadcast program notifications to members of their organization. Members are also responsible for signing their contract, and abiding by the contract provisions, including paying membership dues on a timely basis. In addition, member sites are also expected to designate a medical director for telemedicine as one of their responsibilities for network membership.
Yes. It is possible for any health care facility to assume its own responsibility for arranging for the installation of telecommunication lines and telemedicine equipment without affiliation with the Arizona Telemedicine Program. Negotiations between medical providers can occur among collaborating sites for the provision of telemedical care without being connected to the Arizona Telemedicine network.
The fastest and most efficient means of transmitting radiology data is with digitalized equipment. This requires high-speed telecommunication lines and digitized radiology equipment systems. Start-up costs covering telecommunications lines and digital teleradiology equipment can be $ 70,000 to $ 100,000. Regular phone lines can also be used to transmit radiology data, but this process is extremely slow and would require an inordinate amount of staff time to transmit the data. Interested rural sites need to contact their telecommunications company to arrange for the installation of high-speed lines, a process that can take 6 months to 1 year, depending on location and the telecommunications company. Online searches can be conducted for information on potential teleradiology equipment vendors.