Grant Opportunity

The State of Minnesota recently announced a Request for Proposal for Live Well at Home Grants.   We  know Live Well at Home to be one of the few grants that welcomes proposals that include  technology to develop and /or provide services for older Minnesotans to live in the community.

You need to act quickly!   Pre-registration for the responders conference (to be held Feb. 19th) closes on Feb. 16th and applications are due on March 27th.   For further information see:


Growth of Telepsych

Telepsychiatry companies or telemental health companies are popping all over.  It is, by far, the fastest growing telemedicine business today.  Even if a telemedicine company offers several services via telemedicine e.g. Specialists On Call, telemental health is usually included in the services provided.

There are a variety of business models and services that have evolved in this area.  For example:  some of these companies have developed their own technologies or applications which are tailored to specifically to mental health services; some offer electronic tools to help providers diagnose and monitor a variety of mental health issues; some provide training on now to develop a thriving telemental health practice; some offer clinical, business and marketing resources to support the work of mental health professionals; and some develop online therapy applications and network development.

A sampling of these service business show that services are accessed from a variety of locations:

  • Colleges and Universities
  • Community mental health clinics
  • Correctional facilities
  • Critical Access Hospitals
  • EAP’s and Wellness Centers
  • Emergency departments
  • Federallly Qualifies Health Centers (FQHCs)
  • Individual homes
  • Long term care facilities
  • Military
  • Native American Health Care Systems
  • Primary care offices
  • Shelters
  • Urgent Care Centers
  • Work sites


Conditions typically treated include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression and Bipolar disorders
  • Medication management
  • Obsessive-compulsive
  • Panic and agoraphobia
  • Psychotherapy
  • PTSD
  • Relationship problems
  • Self esteem; self image/eating disorders
  • Substance and alcohol addiction


“Stuck in the waiting room”

Highlights of this article recently published on the Economist:

The idea of telemedicine has a lengthy history. Radio News, an American magazine, devoted its cover to a patient at home consulting a doctor in his surgery via a television link as long ago as 1924. When NASA began monitoring astronauts in space in the 1960s, fantasy became reality. It has been touted as health care’s future ever since. But, still, most health care happens face to face.  Now, enthusiasts think the wait is almost over.  Governments have been too slow to embrace an approach that could improve coverage and outcomes and save money. But they are under big pressure for ageing populations and a surge in chronic diseases.

At an industry conference in Rome on October 7-9, it was discussed to redesign laws and payment systems and find ways to keep patient data secure and private. In America, each state license doctors and the jurisdiction depends on the patient’s location, not the doctor’s. The situation in the European Union is simpler: countries may not pass laws that would stop doctors practicing telemedicine, and doctors need only be licensed in one country to practice in all. In America only 21 states mandate that telemedicine be compensated at the same rate as face-to-face care. At the federal level, the Veterans Administration has embraced telemedicine whereas Medicare, largely ignores it. But private employers and insurers are increasingly paying for telemedicine.

Some small countries are forerunners.  Israel’s health-care system is fully digitized;  all doctors use electronic medical records and patients have access to their data; doctors can write repeat prescriptions and refer patients to specialists over the internet.  China is spending billions on health-care reform, with a focus on telemedicine.

But keen interest is no guarantee of success in any country. Telemedicine may even increase costs if it is added to old routines rather than replacing them.  Some doctors have been reluctant to embrace telemedicine fearing it may lessen their authority by making it easier for patients to see advice elsewhere.  So countries where provision is currently limited or non-existent may be quickest to move.


gpTRAC publishes article ” “Teledermatology: Using collaborative technologies to enhance public health awareness”

Several years ago, back in the late 1990’s, the University of Minnesota started demonstrating telemedicine inside their building at the Minnesota State Fair, which runs every year, for 12 days,  in the month of August.  When we, gpTRAC, became part of the University in 2009, we continued this annual event, of demonstrating telemedicine at the fair. These demonstrations included primarily teledermatology, however a couple years pulmonorary fuction testing and stroke screenings were also part of this event. Over the years, many fairgoers either experienced telemedicine, by either participating as a patient/fairgoer, observing a telemedicine session or simply got educated about the merits of telehealth in general.  For some of them, actually, this is what got them started with telemedicine! Thousands of fairgoers were seeing during these telemedicine sessions and although most of them were diagnosed with suspected benign skin conditions, a few of them were observed with suspected skin cancers, including melanoma. A few testimonials from the fairgoers that experienced this is worth of sharing, like the woman who was seeing for something on her chest, which although didn’t bother her,  it was something she wanted to get an opinion, to return a week later in the telemedicine booth, at the fair, thanking our team members for “saving her life”.  Testimonials like this kept this project going, although some of the challenges to run the project made it difficult at times.

This event has become one of the MN State Fair’s traditions.  We have enjoyed the moments where fairgoers didn’t know what we asked them to experience, the moment when a young teenager, while watching, said “Wow, this is the future”, the moment when older folks saw this as “their answer” to see a doctor, and many more.

Earlier this year, our team decided to write a paper on this popular event.  The paper is titled”.  We are very proud to share with you, our readers, that our paper was accepted by IEEE Xplore for publication. You can find the abstract and the PDF version by clicking on this link:

gpTRAC would like to take this opportunity and express our gratitude to the University of Minnesota Professors of Dermatology, the University of Minnesota Clinical Dermatologists, the University of Minnesota Department of Dermatology; the University of Minnesota dermatology residents: the many telemedicine booth volunteers; the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center Office of Communications State Fair Coordinators and Video Guidance, the vendor who has provided the technology each year since the inception of the project

State Fair 2007

State Fair 2009

State Fair 2014