Telehealth News Flash

The telehealth news articles we have been talking about around our office this week:

New York Times Well:  My Stroke of Luck
How one man learned about telestroke technology through a stroke of his own.  His response to reimbursement resistance:  “Well, there was no living, breathing stroke specialist at my bedside to bill in those first vital hours. Give me a virtual doctor any day.”

Washington Post:  Telemedicine makes new advances, all the way to Antarctica
Videoconferencing enables a partnership between the University of Texas Medical Branch and National Science Foundation workers living at a scientific research station in Antarctica.

Healthcare IT News:  Why not MU for telemedicine?
Noteworthy reflection on Ryan Spaulding’s presentation at this year’s American Telemedicine Association meeting.  The topic:  Meaningful use of telemedicine and how Telehealth Resource Centers can help create a national strategic plan.

May Telehealth Webinar: May 16, 2013

The National Telehealth Webinar Series
Presented by the National Network of Telehealth Resource Centers

Creative Approaches to Serving Patients, Saving Resources and Stretching Dollars

Thursday, MAY 16, 2013
8:00 AM HST, 10:00 AM AKDT, 11:00 AM PDT, 12:00 PM MDT, 1:00 PM CDT, 2:00 PM EDT

Presented by:
Ed Spencer, M.Ed., MSW
Director, Telepsychiatry Consultation Program, SC Department of Mental Health

To join this webinar:

You can test your connection at:
For an overview of Adobe Connect, go to:

The National Telehealth Webinar Series provides timely information to support and guide the development of your telehealth program by experienced telehealth professionals from the HRSA-designated Telehealth Resource Centers.
These webinars are FREE to the public on the 3rd Thursday of each month.

The National Network of Telehealth Resource Centers

Regional Telehealth Forum: Early Bird Deadline April 1!

April 1 marks the end of the early-bird registration rate.  Don’t miss out!  Go to the forum registration page on our website for details and forms.  We also offer a special student rate for those actively enrolled as full-time college students. 

We have put together a very exciting schedule!  Come learn from our keynote speakers Carl Taylor (Fraser Institute for Health Research) and Rob Sprang (Kentucky TeleCare) and other telehealth experts from around the region and nation. 

Hotel Registration:  The block of rooms are also available through April 1.  Rooms are $99 and are on a first come basis.   

Post-Forum Event:  Immediately following the conclusion of the Regional Forum, Polycom is hosting a Grant Writing Workshop.  This is a separate event.  There is no cost to attend, HOWEVER, registration is required as space is limited.  Please contact if you are interested in participating.

Carl Taylor on Connecting with a Purpose

At this year’s gpTRAC Regional Telehealth Forum, we are pleased to present Carl Taylor, Executive Director at the Fraser Institute for Health Research, as a keynote speaker.  Here is a taste of what we will hear from Carl’s talk on using telehealth technology to connect with purpose:  

We are at a moment in time in which the tools at hand be they known by the names of telehealth, m-health, e-health or communication driven healthcare are mature, affordable, and deployable on broad scale.  But the tools or rather the capabilities they create must be evaluated in regards to the uncertain landscape of healthcare, what I call contextual reality.  As we meet together there is more about the future of healthcare here in the US that is unknown than known. But there are common elements of strategies that will bridge this uncertainty.  Among them are that quality is truly going to be job #1.  The second is the role of the primary care provider will deepen.  The third is hospitals either on their own or with physicians will seek continuous care relations with their patients including developing retail strategies.  Hence from a telehealth perspective we must ask- what is our purpose and our place in these strategies.  Where do we fit and how will we need to articulate our role and our outcomes in order to become an integral part of healthcares’ future.  This talk will suggest answers to those questions and allow the listener to develop a market ready strategy to meet future challenges.

Carl Taylor is an innovative leader in the telehealth community and we couldn’t be happier to have him as a keynote presenter!  Have you made plans to attend the Telehealth Forum yet?  You can still register at the early bird rate if you hurry!  Deadline is April 1.
click here to register for the gpTRAC Regional Telehealth Forum

Teledermatology at the 2012 Minnesota State Fair

At this year’s Minnesota State Fair gpTRAC partnered with University of Minnesota physicians to provide fairgoers with free teledermatology screenings.  In total gpTRAC connected 182 patients to dermatologists using a videoconferencing system and a hand held exam camera.  Thousands more were able to watch the sessions in action.  Many of the fairgoers said they hadn’t made it a priority to get screened until they came upon our booth, and many passerbys said it was their first experience seeing telemedicine in action.  To date, gpTRAC has showcased teledermatology, pulmonology, and stroke screenings.  Again this year, the gpTRAC booth was a great sucess, making it our seventh year hosting a telehealth awareness booth at the Minnesota State Fair! 

Having telemedicine demonstrations at the State Fair is a great opportunity to introduce Minnesotans to the possibilities telehealth services can bring to them and their communities.    Special Thank You to the following dermatologists who generously donated their time to provide free teledermatology screenings to fairgoers:

Dr. Spencer Holmes
Dr. Bethany Cook (resident)
Dr. Bart Endrizzi
Dr. Jennifer Lee
Dr. Kimberly Bohjanen
Dr. Neal Foman
Dr. Sanober Amin (resident)
Dr. Maria Hordinsky
Dr. Irving Katz

If you didn’t join us this year, make sure to stop by in 2013. See you at the Fair!

Telehealth Technology: Where to Start

When it comes to outfitting your organization with the proper technology for practicing telemedicine, the options can seem endless. However, gpTRAC and our affiliates can help. Here are a few pieces of advice to get the process started:

1. To determine what equipment you will need to buy, start by understanding what your initial program services will be, as well as your planned service growth. A survey among your stakeholders, or an organizational needs assessment, will help you identify what functionality you need, which will make your equipment requirements clear.

2. Are you familiar with TTAC? If you are involved in telehealth, you should be. TTAC (which stands for The National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center) is a HRSA funded organization that focuses on areas of technology assessment and telehealth policy. They are one of two National Telehealth Resource Centers, and work closely with each of the 12 Regional Telehealth Resource Centers (including gpTRAC!). TTAC’s goal is to create better-informed consumers of telehealth technology by offering a variety of tools and technology assessments. Their website ( is a great place for information on which technologies are appropriate for your telehealth program.

3. Still not sure what technology to choose? Contact us! The gpTRAC staff is here to answer your questions and provide guidance throughout the process.

Telehealth Technology Survey

The National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center (known as TTAC), is currently conducting a national survey of telehealth.  The goal of the survey is to gather data on which telehealth platforms and technologies are being utilized in health care settings, and for what types of clinical applications.  The survey is open from now until October 31, 2012. 
We strongly encourage anyone involved in telehealth to complete this survey! 

Click here to be taken staight to the TTAC short, seven-question Technology Survey.

or click here for more information from TTAC on telehealth technology.

Telehealth is Changing the Face of Healthcare

“In the old days- oh, about 10 years ago- few doctors used the Internet for anything but email and research. “App” was a word used mainly by technology buffs, as in “killer app.” And cellphones were useful but far from smart. Now digital technology- on phones and tablets, in electronic record keeping, and in a host of clinical innovations- is transforming medicine in virtually every way…” -New York Times, Science Times, 10/9/2012

On Tuesday, the New York Times published a special addition of their Science Times section entitled “The Digital Doctor,” highlighting the many ways doctors and patients are utilizing technology to improve the quality of healthcare.  Several of the articles are about telemedicine specifically.  For example, one article (“With Telemedicine as Bridge, No Hospital Is an Island”) describes how Nantucket’s main Hospital is utilizing teledermatology to save money ($29000/year) and see more dermatology patients (1100/year).

Telehealth is a game-changer in healthcare.  And in our opinion, the more publicity it gets, the better.  Telemedicine offers a smart solution for improving healthcare and wellness, while lowering the cost of care delivery. For both providers and patients, the list of benefits is impressive.  For more information on the benefits of telemedicine, visit the gpTRAC Delivery and Results of Care section here.

Telemedicine: In the Beginning

Telemedicine has come a long way in the last ten years.  In this video we reflect on what telemedicine was like “in the beginning” compared to where telemedicine is today.  This video was produced by the Great Plains Telehealth Resource and Assistance Center and submitted as part of the American Telemedicine Association 2012 video contest addressing the theme: “Expect Telemedicine.”

 “Although technology has changed, and will continue to change, what will always remain constant is that telemedicine works.  Expect telemedicine, because telemedicine works.” 

For information on integrating telemedicine into your organization, visit gpTRAC’s Get Started Guide here.

Technology as Solution to Future Physician Shortages

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) work force projections, nationwide physician shortages are predicted to reach 91,500 by the year 2020.  Multiply that by the average number of patients under a given doctor’s care (somewhere between 700 and 1700) and the result is an immense patient base with unmet healthcare needs, particularly in rural areas.  Additionally, doctor shortages will likely increase wait time for patients, shorten length of appointments, and increase number of ER visits by those who do not have medical homes. However, technology could offer solutions, especially through the development of telemedicine programs.  “Complex changes such as improving efficiency, reconfiguring the way some services are delivered and making better use of our physicians will also be needed.” says the AAMC.  And solutions like this are already popping up.  For example, take the new technology healthcare company Clear MD. Using an online platform, Clear MD connects providers and patients through short, clear, single topic videos.

Innovative, creative tools like this will become increasingly useful as we deal with future physician shortages.  So will setting up strong telehealth networks within our healthcare systems.  For providers and patients alike, it may seem complicated to start using telemedicine.  However by following a few simple steps the process can be straightforward and easy- and the effort is guaranteed to be worth it.  gpTRAC offers a number of guides and resources to assist organizations and individuals in this process.  Here are  few of them:  Getting Started: Planning Ahead, Best Practices for Sucess, Studies Reports and White Papers, and our Resource Toolkit.  Additional questions?  Contact us at 888-239-7092.