Helping health-care providers connect with patients in some of the most underserved areas of the Southwest is the mission of the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (SWTRC), which recently received a $975,000 cooperative agreement grant from the federal Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, a division of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The grant will fund the SWTRC from Sept. 1 through August 2020.
One of only 14 telehealth resource centers in the United States, the SWTRC was established in 2009 under the aegis of the Arizona Telemedicine Program, headquartered at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson. The SWTRC offers telehealth services to providers in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada.
The center assists start-up telehealth programs as well as existing programs in hospitals, clinics, public health offices and other programs and facilities that want to extend their services to underserved areas. Assistance can include advising programs on the types of telehealth equipment that would best serve their needs, developing a business and marketing plan and training telehealth staff.
"This grant will enable the University of Arizona to leverage its expertise in health care and its nationally recognized leadership in telemedicine for the benefit of not just the people of Arizona, but people across the Southwest," said UA President Robert C. Robbins, MD. "Telehealth is an incredibly important use of technology as we work to create broader access to quality health care, and it is a wonderful example of how the UA can lead. I am very excited to see how this program continues to thrive."
Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), is principal investigator on the grant, No. G22RH30360. He and Elizabeth A. Krupinski, PhD, serve as co-directors of the SWTRC, with Kristine A. Erps serving as associate director of administration. Along with the rest of the highly experienced ATP team, they provide expert advice and support to those interested in telemedicine in the Southwest.
"For nearly 10 years, the SWTRC has served as the 'go to' site for training, technical assistance and advice regarding telemedicine implementation and practice," said Dr. Krupinski.
The SWTRC supports programs throughout their growth with a variety of resources, including the ATP's T-Health Institute in downtown Phoenix on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. The T-Health Amphitheater, its "e-Classroom-of-the-Future," serves as a video-conferencing center where SWTRC members can attend training programs, participate in physician grand rounds and take part in webinars and academic courses.
"The SWTRC is a valuable resource for health-care organizations and individual medical practitioners throughout the Southwest," said Dr. Weinstein. "We get to share the 'secrets for success' of the national award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program with health-care organizations in five states. It's a great arrangement. They learn from us and we learn from them. Everybody wins!"
About the Arizona Telemedicine Program
The Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP), an industry leader in telehealth, was established in 1996 by the Arizona State Legislature to provide accessible, top-quality health care to rural Arizonans. Based at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson, ATP strongly supports the growth of telemedicine throughout Arizona and provides a suite of services to its member organizations, including clinical, administrative and information technology (IT) support, telemedicine training, facility design and continuing medical education (CME). More than 60 clinical subspecialty services have been provided through the network, amounting to more than 1.3 million telemedicine cases. ATP is the headquarters for the federally funded Southwest Telehealth Resource Center, which serves Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. ATP has received many national awards for its innovative patient services, distance education and telehealth training programs. For more information: telemedicine.arizona.edu
About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs almost 5,000 people, has nearly 1,000 faculty members and garners more than $126 million in research grants and contracts annually.