Tag Archives: Arizona Telemedicine Program

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Arizona Telemedicine Names Associate Director

Nancy Rowe, a national leader in the telemedicine field, has been named associate director for outreach for the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP).

Rowe will work toward expanding ATP’s connections with hospitals and other health-care providers in Northern Arizona. She also will assist in marketing and training efforts. Rowe assumed her new role with ATP on Jan. 6.

Rowe has served for more than 10 years as director of telemedicine for the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (NARBHA), the agency that administers state-funded behavioral health care in Flagstaff and other Northern Arizona communities.

Under her stewardship, NARBHA’s telemedicine network grew from 12 to more than 80 sites and won the 2010 Award of Excellence in Health Information Technology from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. Rowe also implemented online telepsychiatry training courses and was responsible for establishing contracts between NARBHA and health-care organizations throughout Northern Arizona.

She is the immediate past chair of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) Business and Finance Special Interest Group, which won the ATA’s 2013 Special Interest Group and Chapter Achievement Award.

“We couldn’t have a more accomplished person in this role,” said Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, co-founder and director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program.

“Nancy has done a remarkable job of building NARBHA into one of the leading telemedicine mental health providers in the world.” While at NARBHA, Rowe developed strong relationships with all the communities of Northern Arizona, Weinstein noted, making it possible for NARBHA-affiliated doctors to handle more than 100,000 patient encounters.

“I have worked collaboratively with the ATP for many years, and am thrilled to be joining this group of talented people,” Rowe said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of expanding the ATP’s presence and strengthening its partnerships in Northern Arizona.”

Rowe graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. Before joining NARBHA in 2001, she spent 13 years at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis; first as senior editor for its University Relations department, and then as communications coordinator for the College of Biological Sciences.

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Arizona Telemedicine Sets Standard of Innovation

Investments by state governments in their own state universities can yield large returns and help create new industries.  In Arizona, telemedicine is a good example of a success story.

The Arizona Telemedicine Program’s Telehealth Technology Innovation Accelerator (TTIA) supports the development of telemedicine programs in independent health-care delivery systems throughout Arizona. The Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) operates one of the largest broadband health-care telemedicine service networks in the United States, delivers federally funded distance education and training programs throughout the Southwest and supports clinical studies on innovative health-care delivery systems.

Headquartered at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, the ATP began in 1996, when then-State Representatives Robert “Bob” Burns (R-Glendale) and Lou Ann Preble (R-Tucson) championed the creation of an eight-site telemedicine program.  Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, a pioneer in telemedicine and telepathology, was recruited as its founding director. Since then, the eight-site Arizona Telemedicine Rural Network has grown 20-fold, and now extends to 160 sites in 70 communities.

“Our goal from the start was to use state funding as seed money for something far greater,” said Dr. Weinstein. “Our University of Arizona physician faculty members and basic scientists saw an opportunity to create a new type of federation of telemedicine programs, in which the UA would have multiple roles for an Arizona state-wide consortium of telemedicine programs. These roles now include creating and operating a shared broadband telecommunications network; developing inclusive training programs that address the telemedicine training needs of personnel across the entire health-care industry in Arizona; and promoting telemedicine, telehealth and mobile health (or mHealth).”

Today, a number of nationally recognized telemedicine programs are affiliated with ATP.  Personnel in these programs have received telemedicine training and technical assistance from ATP in Tucson and Phoenix or online.

The Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) in Yuma, Ariz., signed on with ATP in 2006.  Greg Warda, MD, and his YRMC staff now have daily access to pediatric cardiologists led by Daniela Lax, MD, at The University of Arizona Health Network (UAHN) in Tucson. Doctors in YRMC’s 20-bassinet Neonatal Intensive Care Unit have immediate access to UA telecardiologists in Tucson over the Arizona Rural Telemedicine Network. Immediate medical decisions can be made about transferring babies born with life-threatening congenital heart defects to Tucson or Phoenix hospitals with world-class pediatric cardiothoracic surgery specialists on their staffs. Said Dr. Warda, “I can’t say enough about the cardiologists in Tucson. They’ve all been wonderful.”

Each week, the UAHN cardiology group consults on four to five YRMC cases by telemedicine video conferencing and UA cardiologists also spend a day and a half each month in Yuma following up on the babies and children they have diagnosed. ATP engineers are available 24/7 to provide technical support for this pediatric service, which has handled more than 400 expedited cases in the past five years.

Another innovative program—Phoenix-based Banner Health’s eICU (electronic intensive care unit) program, one of the largest in the nation—utilizes clinical decision support systems (CDSS), computerized diagnostic aids that automate continual analysis of patient vital signs and provide electronic access to electronic health records, lab results, medications, medical imaging and other patient data. The CDSS alerts care teams to adverse trends as well as to acute events. Spotting adverse trends in a patient’s status is challenging in any care environment due to factors such as caring for multiple patients simultaneously and routine shift changes, but is critical to preventing adverse outcomes. The CDSS allows remote intensivists (physicians who specialize in the care and treatment of patients in intensive care units) and bedside care teams to focus their efforts on the patients who need them the most.

Banner’s eICU enterprise is built around a CDSS developed by faculty in the Department of Anesthesia at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., and is led by Deborah Dahl, vice president for patient care innovation and director of telemedicine at Banner. Currently, 430 eICU rooms at 20 Banner hospitals are equipped with a fixed two-way audio-video system linked to a call center in Mesa, Ariz., from which intensivists remotely monitor patients. In addition to providing the Banner Health “teleteam” video access, the system continuously gathers data from the bedside monitors and each patient’s electronic medical record. A single intensivist can follow hundreds of patients a day by telemedicine. The eICU system saves Banner Health tens of millions of dollars a year. It improves patient care, results in discharging patients earlier and lowers 30-day readmission rates.

Another ATP teaching affiliate, the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, has a network of rural telestroke sites. Bart M. Demaerschalk, MD, professor of neurology and director of the telestroke and teleneurology programs at the Mayo Clinic, and Ben Bobrow, MD, professor of emergency medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix created a state-wide rural telestroke and teleneurology program that serves 1,500 patients annually, preventing permanent brain damage and death. Their telestroke network is bringing “golden hour” diagnostic services to patients at Bisbee’s Copper Queen Community Hospital and other rural hospitals in Casa Grande, Cottonwood, Flagstaff, Globe, Kingman, Parker, Show Low, Tuba City and Yuma. (The “Golden Hour” for neurology patients is the one-to-three hours after stroke symptoms first appear, when the majority of strokes may be averted by intravenous thrombolytic therapy.)

The “granddaddy” of telemedicine services in Arizona is teleradiology, the most commonly used telemedicine application in the United States. Faculty in the UA Department of Medical Imaging (formerly Department of Radiology) pioneered the development of digital radiology, the foundational technology for teleradiology. Today, teleradiology services like those developed at the UA a decade ago are offered by hundreds of teleradiology companies in the United States. Since 1998, UA radiologists have diagnosed more than 1.3 million radiology cases for patients in 25 communities in Arizona and adjacent states.

“Today a number of our outstanding telemedicine programs, owned by different health-care organizations, work together on telemedicine challenges ranging from legal and regulatory issues to telecommunications challenges to reimbursement issues of mutual concern,” said Dr. Weinstein. The ATP is proud of the fact that “the Arizona State Legislature had a strong sense of ownership of the ATP at the time of its creation 17 years ago, and is engaged in these activities of ATP more than ever today.”

Dr. Weinstein noted, “Telemedicine is everybody’s business.”

University Of Arizona

The University Of Arizona Celebrates Innovation

The University of Arizona (UA) hosted its ninth annual Innovation Day on March 6.  The event, attended by over 300 people, celebrated the UA’s success in technology development and innovation by highlighting the research achievements of students, staff, and faculty.

Innovation Day opened with UA at the Leading Edge, which showcased the cutting edge research of leading UA faculty members.  The session was chaired by Dr. Len Jessup, Dean of the Eller College of Management.

This year’s Leading Edge researchers included:

  • Eric A. Betterton, Ph.D. focuses on atmospheric and environmental chemistry exploring an atmospheric model to forecast wind-blown dust from natural and man-made sources.  This research supports the development of dust forecasting technology for health and traffic advisories.
  • Leslie Gunatilaka, Ph.D. explores novel compounds synthesized by exotic plants from the arid zones of Asia, S. America and the Sonoran desert, and evaluates these compounds for medicinal value.
  • Larry Head, Ph.D. specializes in systems and industrial engineering.  His research on priority based traffic signals is working to save the lives of fire and rescue first responders.
  • Sharon Megdal, Ph.D. concentrates on state and regional water resource management and policy.  Her work on environmental water needs, aquifer recharge and assessment, and planning to meet future water needs of growing, semi-arid regions contributes to improved development and understanding of state water management strategies.
  • James T. Schwiegerling, Ph.D. is developing a design for an accommodating intraocular lens, which behaves just like the flexible human lens in the eye, which can be used as a replacement in cataract surgery.

The celebration of University of Arizona innovation continued with the Technology Innovation Awards Luncheon, which honored an outstanding faculty member and student for their achievements in translating original ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace.

This year’s faculty Technology Innovation Award recipient is Ronald S. Weinstein, M.D.  Dr. Weinstein has pursed a wide variety of projects in his medical career.  He has pioneered original research in cancer diagnostics and the human-computer interface, championed the translation of his inventions into commercial products, and founded companies in the technology-based sector to market their products.  Dr. Weinstein is an internationally acclaimed academic physician who invented, patented, and commercialized “telepathology” a transformational healthcare delivery system that leverages the power of broadband telecommunications.  He is the founding director of the award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP).

Alexandra Armstrong, a final-year PhD candidate in Veterinary Sciences and Microbiology, received the student Technology Innovation Award.  Alexandra Armstrong is a leading force in the area of preventing bacterial food borne diseases. Ms. Armstrong’s doctoral project resulted in a novel, reproducible, effective vaccine to reduce Campylobacter jejuni. The commercial potential of this vaccine is enormous.

The UA also recognized the extraordinary accomplishment of Michael Drake (1946-2011), a leader in the cosmochemistry scientific community.   He was the guiding force in the Phoenix Mars Mission and the recently announced OSIRIS-Rex mission.

A special video titled “Thinking the Impossible” premiered during the luncheon and highlighted how the University of Arizona has been a global leader in scientific and technological innovation for over a hundred years.

Following the luncheon, the Innovation Showcase provided an opportunity for participants to interact with UA departments, start-up companies from the Arizona Center for Innovation, as well as get an early glimpse at the business plans of students from the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.

The Innovation Showcase Awards recognized student teams who developed business plans from the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the Eller College of Management.  The companies were judged on various aspects of their business presentation.  The People’s Choice Award was presented to the business venture that received the most Innovation Bucks from showcase attendees.  Mindful Monkee, received the People’s Choice award and $200 cash prize.  Top student ventures overall were selected by a panel of judges comprised of angel investors and entrepreneurs.  Two student teams won booth appeal.  First place winner for booth appeal, OnwardPacks, received $250 cash prize and second place winner, Advanced Armor Applications, won $150 cash prize.  Two student teams won communication and fluency awards.  First place winner, MistoBox, received $250 cash prize and second place winner, Testab, won $150 cash prize.

Innovation Day at the UA was organized by the Office of University Research Parks and the Arizona Center for Innovation in partnership with the UA’s Senior Vice President for Research, UA External Relations, Office of Technology Transfer, and the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.

Innovation Day’s title sponsor was Research Corporation for Science Advancement.  Other sponsors included: Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Tech Council, BizTucson, Hecker and Muehlebach, PLLC., Tucson Electric Power and Strategy 1.

Innovation Day at the UA was an official Arizona Centennial Event as well as a signature event of the Arizona SciTech Festival.