Virginia Telehealth Summit – Takeaways

April 11, 2011
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The Virginia Telehealth Network believes that all Virginians should have access to high-quality healthcare regardless of their location.  The Network devotes its resources to advancing telehealth and related technologies to support health care delivery for all Virginians.

 The Virginia Telehealth Network Summit meeting was held April 5, 2011.  Invited lecturers talked on the Funding of Telehealth, Building Sustainable Programs, Legal and Regulatory Issues in Telehealth, Telemental Health, Social Media and Telehealth, and other topics.  

The Virginia Telehealth Network believes that all Virginians should have access to high-quality healthcare regardless of their location.  The Network devotes its resources to advancing telehealth and related technologies to support health care delivery for all Virginians.

 The Virginia Telehealth Network Summit meeting was held April 5, 2011.  Invited lecturers talked on the Funding of Telehealth, Building Sustainable Programs, Legal and Regulatory Issues in Telehealth, Telemental Health, Social Media and Telehealth, and other topics.  

 My overall impression during the whole conference was ‘Why don’t more people know about all this?’  Telemedicine is huge and in many cases can cut costs and increase efficiency, which is what we need in today’s present health care environment.

 Karen Rheuban and Stephen Bowman spoke about the Virginia Health Reform Initiative.  They advocated the use of Electronic Medical Records, HI Exchanges, Expansion of Telemedicine and Broadband and an All Payer Claims Database for increased cost transparency.  Dr Rheuban confirmed to me that these changes were due to go forward regardless of any ruling on the Health Care Reform Act.

 Dr. Edward Brown of the Ontario Telemedicine Network talked about the extensive telemedicine health system in Canada where the distance from patient to doctor is large and often can be bridged only by small aircraft.  OTN has realized enormous savings in costs and time by utilizing telemedicine.  The network is rapidly growing and is widely accepted by patients and physicians.

 During one of the break sessions, I spoke with Dr. Adrienne Turner, a fellow in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Virginia Health System and a speaker at the Summit.  Dr. Turner spoke of her experience using telemedicine for child psychiatry in rural Virginia.  She said that the children and adolescent patients took to the telemedicine idea completely and the parents appreciated the time and cost savings involved. 

 I also spoke with Dr. Vladimir Lavrentyev, the Telemedicine Coordinator at Virginia Commonwealth University and the 2011 recipient of the VTN Individual Reward for Distinguished Service.  Dr. Lavrentyev explained to me the numerous advantages of using telemedicine at the Department of Corrections.  The inmates can access any doctor they need without the time, expense, and risk of traveling to a medical institution.  Here again, telemedicine offers cost savings and increases in efficiency.

 The afternoon breakout session on Mobile Health and Social Media reviewed these means of communicating with patients to form relationships without face to face meetings.

 Dr. Felasfa Wodajo, Medical Director of Musculoskeletal Oncology at Virginia Hospital Center, and senior editor of iMedicalApps, talked about medical apps.  Dr. Wodajo stated that about 71% of physicians have a smart phone and that the iPad is currently being adopted as part of the medical school curriculum in several areas.  With the launch of an Amazon Android app store, the Droid is competing in popularity with the iPhone.  Some apps to take note of:

            Nimble – EHR

            iPrescribe – sends prescription directly to pharmacy

            Airstrip – FDA approved monitoring

            Medscape – Free disease and drug reference

            Epocrates – Drug reference

            iBGStar Glucometer- monitors glucose and sends to doctor

 Dr. Mark Ryan then spoke on Social Media and Health Care.  Dr. Ryan is from the Department of Family Medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.  He is also a member of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Advisory Board.   Dr. Ryan said that Social Media can engage a patient and keep him motivated to take care of himself.  The e-Patient (and the “e” stands for engaged or empowered) then becomes part of the health care team and works with the doctor to lead a healthy life style.  Increasingly, patients will ask for more and more interaction with their doctor and those doctors who deliver and use social media will be the ones whom patients prefer.  Mark gave me a short video presentation of his talk that I posted here.

 In summary, this was a great meeting and a chance to hear a lot of talks on an extremely important topic.  Again, my big takeaway from this meeting is ‘Why don’t more people know about this?’

 To view the complete agenda, names of speakers and lectures (soon to be posted), please visit the VTN website.  June Collmer, Interim Executive Director of  VTN, has done an amazing job of building and maintaining a most comprehensive website on  Telemedicine.  You can find links to many articles, sorted by topic, as well as telemedicine events, resources, websites, and more.

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