2004, telemedicine was listed as a key aspect of New York State’s initiative to
improve access and quality in health care through advances in technology. Electronic
records and electronic drug prescriptions were the other two criteria.
to Gregory Young, MD,F.A.C.E.P, Medical Director, Western Region of New York
State Department of Health, “Telemedicine is a critical part of the future of
medicine.” A few years into the initiative, our local government took active
role in making this happen. According to Pressconnects, on June 27, 2013, “The
Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council approved an initiative that
would allow health care
providers in the eight-county region to apply for $2.5 million in funding.”
initiative, called the Telemedicine and Mobile Technology Fund,
is expected to get the green light from the Empire State Development Corp.
Board of Directors. Programs such as the Community Revitalization Program and
the Rural Initiative Program were established in 2012 using state economic
development funds. The Telemedicine and Mobile Technology Fund, the latest in
the line of these community revitalization initiatives, would use $2.5 million
available from the second round of state funds (2).
means faster and easier access to your healthcare provider. Though, some
clients favor remote visits due to difficulties associated with leaving their
house, travel expenses and occasional lapses in office schedules, leading to
prolonged waiting or on the spot cancelations. Others, like me dislike visiting
a germ-ridden waiting room for other reasons. In both cases, a remote access to
the medical team is the best solution. Not to say that telemedicine should be
used to replace all office visits, but the ones that consists of subjective
rather than objective data gathering.
local facility has provided telemedicine for three years. Susquehanna Nursing
and Rehabilitation Center (SNRC) offers tele-visits with a movement disorder
specialist from the University of Rochester to their inpatient clients and
clients in the community living with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s
Kevin Biglan, associate professor of Neurology at University of Rochester has
been researching benefits of telemedicine in clients with Parkinson’s disease
for more than five years. He finds that having access to telemedicine allows
for better treatment of symptoms, better satisfaction and better quality of
life for clients. Dr. Biglan has been working with Susquehanna Nursing and
Rehabilitation Center for the past three years.
our facility, telemedicine visits have prompted better multidisciplinary
communication by involving a skilled therapist and a nurse as part of all the
visits. Telemedicine allows for “real-time” visits (where a client can be seen
when they are having specific symptoms), minimizes travel costs (including
stress) and allows clinical staff in our facility easy access to Dr. Biglan,
thus optimizing clients’ quality of care.
downfall of this program is that insurance does not recognize telemedicine in
our region, and most clients have to pay for their visits out of pocket. SNRC holds an annual fundraiser in the month of
April, which is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, to assist clients in the community
who are not able to pay for the visits. Our
facility has covered the cost of the visits for those clients residing at SNRC or
staying here for short-term rehabilitation.
Despite the cost of this program, monthly telemedicine schedule is
always full. Providing quality healthcare at a distance is a great solution for
many, but can be challenging and easily abused if the correct quality measures
are not utilized.
2. Jon Harris for pressconnects July 27, 2013 http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20130627/BUSINESS/306270035/Southern-Tier-economic-council-approves-fund-health-care-initiative