Pacific Island Health Care Providers launched the first of a series of distance learning sessions for Pacific Island providers on May 18th. The topic was gastroenterology, with a specific focus on biopsy for suspected colon cancers. The discussion was facilitated by Dr. Chris Hair, Gastroenterologist, from ANZGITA, Epworth Private Hospital and Deakin University, Geelong Australia. The session was delivered by interactive video teleconference and organized by Dr. Payne Perman from Pohnpei. Participation was excellent with thirty-seven Pacific Island providers and students from Pohnpei, American Samoa, Ebeye, Majuro, Palau, American Samoa, Samoa, and Fiji. Dr. Hair started with a didactic on when to do a biopsy, and appropriate approaches including tools and techniques. He explained that the biopsy site matters and with proper protocols you can get significantly improved cancer diagnoses for better quality and timely patient care. He then presented several Pacific Island cases that clearly showed strategic biopsy points and different tumors. Several providers presented their own cases, some including challenges in terms of how to treat patients in limited resource situations. A participant even presented a case through a video recording of a difficult endoscopy completed just that morning. This generated a lot of discussion from the group. After the session, the doctor reported having gone back to that difficult case and successfully completing the biopsy that afternoon— this illustrates the immediate positive impact of this educational session. Many future topics were suggested such as balloon dilation, diagnosis and management of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST), and H.Pylori topics with predilection to GIST. Ongoing sessions are much anticipated and will be held on the third Friday of every month. Participation is open and welcomed.
More information about ANZGITA can be found on their website.
On March 28th, 2018, the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center facilitated a telehealth round-table discussion with Ms. Aisling McDonough. Ms. McDonough recently became Senator Schatz’s health legislative assistant following the departure of Dr. Aimee Grace. Approximately 18 participants from the community attended the round-table and provided Ms. McDonough with an overview and introduction to Hawaii’s telehealth landscape, activities, and initiatives. Ms. McDonough explained the telehealth components in the 2018 budget agreement. As part of the 2018 budget agreement, Medicare will pay for more telehealth services including: telehealth services to diagnose and treat a stroke (beginning in 2019); monthly clinical visits via telehealth for home dialysis patients (starting in 2019); allowing Medicaid advantage plans to offer telehealth more easily (beginning in 2020); and allowing some accountable care organizations to provide care to patients in their homes via telehealth (starting in 2020).
On September 10th, the Hawaii/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center (AHEC) hosted the 2017 Hawaii Health Workforce Summit. The Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center’s booth received over 215 walkthroughs from individuals who were looking to learn more about telehealth. PBTRC staff shared telehealth information with Doctors, Dentists, Social Workers, and other allied health professionals. The PBTRC’s co-director, Dr. Deborah Birkmire-Peters, also spoke on a panel about rural health. Other panel topics included oral health, geriatrics, and insurance updates.
On December 15, 2016, the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center (PBTRC) participated in a video teleconference ceremony to launch the opening of the Pohnpei Telemedicine Room in the Pohnpei Hospital. The ceremony was attended by the Pohnpei State Governor, the Chairman of Health, Senators, and the Director of Pohnpei State Hospital, among other dignitaries. Dr. Perman, who attended the 2016 USAPI Telehealth Champion Building and Planning Workshop, led the efforts to quickly establish telecommunication links, the designated room, and funding to support the initiative. With the opening of the Telemedicine Room, they will embark on their first two consultations with Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu. Dr. Craig Ono from Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu will see two of his former patients in Pohnpei by video teleconferencing. Providers also participated in the ECHO behavioral mental health training sessions that are delivered in conjunction with the University of Hawaii, Hawaii State Rural Health Association, State of Hawaii Department of Health, and PBTRC.
Introduced by Hawaii’s own Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) as well as Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act was signed into law by President Obama on December 14, 2016. This bipartisan bill aims to increase access to high quality healthcare and health education in rural or underserved areas. Project ECHO, which was started in 2003, allows providers to learn from specialists and consult about cases via video teleconferencing. The Act requires that the Secretary of Health and Human Services examine whether technology based projects such as Project ECHO have an impact on workforce development, access to healthcare, and the treatment of specific diseases such as chronic diseases and mental health and addiction issues. The Secretary will also report on any problems faced when adopting technology based learning models. Additionally, cost effectiveness and effective practices of those who have adopted such models will be included in the report.
Senator Schatz’s Press Release: http://www.schatz.senate.gov/press-releases/president-obama-signs-schatz-hatch-tele-training-bill-into-law
For the full text of the Act please visit: https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s2873/BILLS-114s2873enr.pdf
Photo (L-R): Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI); Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/SenBrianSchatz/status/806966405488742400