Now that a sound broadband infrastructure is in place, reimbursement for telemedicine services is the next logical step in advancing adoption of telemedicine in Arkansas. To that end, Senator Bledsoe sponsored SB 133 titled, “Telemedicine Act” which encourages the use of telemedicine and authorizes reimbursement and regulation of service provided through telemedicine, among other things. On January 26, 2015, this bill was introduced and referred to Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor. The Center for Distance Health will be monitoring the outcome of this important bill.
Introduction of “Jabber” Communications Application
The Physician Learning and collaborative Education (Peds PLACE) is a weekly interactive, education teleconference linking physicians and other health care professionals in Arkansas with experts from Arkansas Children’s Hospital, The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and around the world. With the introduction of Jabber, which is software that uses public internet to connect into the Arkansas e-Link’s network of video conferencing equipment, Peds PLACE has provided access to 22 private practitioners around the state that otherwise might not have access to participate in the weekly video conferences. The goal of this project with Jabber is to provide support to private practice doctors around the state, build relationships between physicians and the subspecialists, learn from the experience of doctors in private practice, disseminate translational research to those in practice and improve the health of Arkansas’s children.
Shannon Lewis, RN, Project Director, ANGELS, UAMS, “ The capabilities of the Jabber software has allowed us to provide education to sites that normally do not have access to our weekly meetings, giving them the opportunity to interact with their peers across the state.”
In the past, doctors in private practice who have participated have had to leave their offices to access the video conferences. Funding through the Betty Lowe Chair of Pediatric Education (through 6/30/2015) enables these physicians the capability to participate without having to leave their offices.
Bryan L. Burke, Jr., M.D., FAAP, Professor, Section of Neonatology, “A doctor in his office, in the smallest town in Arkansas, can receive high-quality continuing education from pediatric authorities, have a discussion with these experts, listen to other private practice physicians’ concerns and questions, and receive free CME. This same equipment will allow him to access other UAMS tele-educational programs.”
Prior to this capability, there were only two private groups that had access inside their private practices.
Currently, the Arkansas e-Link Network’s volume is 600 simultaneous high-definition video calls, which has not reached over 50% capacity of port utilization in the past year on any given day. In 2014, there were more than 108,000 calls made across the network resulting in over 151,355 hours of time spent connected for clinical, educational and administrative activities.
If you are interested in finding out more about continuing education opportunities, check out the examples of and links to CME/CE available via telehealth: https://learnondemand.org/default.aspx
If you’d like to discuss what others are doing or have ideas to further leverage the e-Link network, email us at email@example.com or call 501-603-1280.
To find out where Arkansas Telehealth sites are located in each county, go to http://telehealth.uamsweb.com/telemedicine-in-your-town/