Arizona, the sixth largest state in the U.S. in square miles, has a complex scattering of isolated communities across its territory, including border communities and Native American reservations. Financial limitations coupled with cultural differences and sheer physical distance has created a unique need for innovative medical care. The ATP, established in 1996, addressed these challenges through innovative telemedicine initiatives using TANDBERG's Tele-HealthCare solutions. This enabled doctors, in 14 remote locations across the state, access to medical expertise by linking them to the University of Arizona's staff of 270 medical specialists.
The open structure of the network allows physicians in rural areas, who in the past were isolated from their peers, to collaborate with other doctors on an individual case. At the same time, patients in rural communities are presented with an affordable alternative to travel if they need to consult a specialist. Thus, a patient can see a specialist the very same day as their visit with their primary care physician. The programme has been such a success that more than 10.000 patients have received "telemedical care".
"On behalf of the 450 physicians who take part in our programme, I am honoured to accept this award", stated Dr. Ronald Weinstein, director of the Arizona Telemedicine Programme for the University of Arizona. "We want doctors in each location to feel they are part of the medical community, so they are comfortable exchanging information to help treat patients in remote areas of the state. As a result of TANDBERG's willingness to accept input from us in the design of their Tele-HealthCare solutions, we have developed an innovative approach to deliver the residents of Arizona the medical help they need."
"The ATP is a great example of how a telemedicine programme should be developed, planned, and implemented", commented Richard Grace, who is the executive vice president of the Applications Group at TANDBERG. "With TANDBERG's help, the ATP has been able to develop a virtual medical community. As a result, patients in remote areas can benefit from the same medical opportunities as those patients who are in well-populated areas."
The ATP or Arizona Telemedicine Programme is a large, multi-disciplinary, university-based programme that provides telemedicine services, distance learning, informatics training, and telemedicine technology assessment capabilities to communities throughout Arizona. This programme has succeeded in creating partnerships among a wide variety of not-for-profit and profit health care organisations, and has developed new interagency relationships within the state government.
Functioning as a "virtual corporation", the Arizona Telemedicine Programme is creating new paradigms for health care delivery over the information superhighway. The programme is recognised as one of the premier programmes at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and has received numerous awards at the national level for its research and innovations.