All posts in Telehealth

PIHOA – American Samoa

PIHOA – American Samoa

The 63rd Pacific Island Health Officers’ Association (PIHOA) executive board meeting was held on March 28th in American Samoa. Ginger Porter of the PBTRC attended the meeting in person and provided technical support. PBTRC co-director Christina Higa presented remotely via video teleconference as part of a telehealth panel. Her presentation covered the basics of telehealth and highlighted telehealth programs in the United States Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI). In addition to providing technical support at the meeting, during her time in American Samoa Ginger Porter also provided an overview of the Universal Services Administrative Company’s rural health care program.

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Dr. Okamura Testifies at Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Telehealth in the VA

Dr. Okamura Testifies at Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Telehealth in the VA

On May 4th, 2017, Dr. Norman Okamura, Principal Investigator, Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center (PBTRC), testified at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Telemedicine in the VA.   Dr. Okamura noted that the VA is the national leader in telemedicine utilization and the largest integrated health care system in the U.S.  He also highlighted the need for increased collaboration with the VA and other agencies such as the Department of Defense and academic institutions, and further advocated for increased synergy with HRSA funded Telehealth Resource Centers that serve all 50 states and Pacific Island territories.

Dr. Okamura provided his perspective on the importance of telemedicine in the Pacific Islands Region. He discussed how the vast distance and the numerous times zones that separate the Pacific Island Territories from the United States further increases the need for telehealth services for access to care for Veterans living in the territories.   Finally, Dr. Okamura highlighted the ongoing challenges for veterans in the Pacific Island Freely Associated States (FAS). Under current law the VA is unable to provide these veterans services in FAS where they live, not even by telehealth, because the FAS jurisdictions are considered foreign countries.  Dr. Okamura’s testimony suggests several options for the VA to improve services to the FAS veterans including the authorization of Veteran Health Benefits to provide telehealth services to the veterans who live in the FAS.

To view the full testimony: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings/telemedicine-in-the-va-leveraging-technology-to-increase-access-improve-health-outcomes-and-lower-costs

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