The CONNECT Act is reintroduced for a third time now with the support of more than 120 organizations. The legislation aims to remove Medicare restrictions on telehealth, thereby increasing telehealth access and further advancing telehealth as a core health care delivery model.More
Pohnpei Conducts First Live Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Consultation by Video Teleconference
By: Christina Higa, Co-Director, Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center
Pohnpei Hospital’s Dr. Payne Perman makes history again! Today he conducted a gastrointestinal endoscopy in Pohnpei while a panel of experts from the Australian and New Zealand Gastroenterology International Training Association (ANZGITA) and Fiji School of Medicine offer real time advice and guidance by video teleconference.
The procedure conducted today was quite complex. It involved inserting an endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and camera, into the stomach. He also used a balloon dilator that was inserted into the scope and through the narrowing to widen it. This is a specialized procedure that is usually done by experienced endoscopist.
To assure optimal video image and teleconference quality, Pohnpei Hospital used a high definition camera and a new desktop screen so that the Pacific Island partners could be seen by the Pohnpei team during the procedure.
During the procedure, Drs. Chris Hair; Mai Ling; Paul Clark observed and gave advice along the way. Experts were able to advise on what instruments and sizes of instruments to use. Also help with the next steps in managing this patient. Dr. Perman is a general internist, so having access to super sub-specialists (e.g., gastroenterologists) expands his health care delivery to the people of Pohnpei. Especially to patients without insurance and are not able to get help abroad.
Dr. Perman said, “I would not have had the confidence to do this by myself and would typically have to refer these more complex cases off island; however, with the team of experts I was able to successfully conduct the biopsy and plan for next steps for the patient.” Dr. Perman was able to gain the confidence because he had several experts looking on with him. At the same time, other participants who joined the telehealth session learned much by observing and asking questions. Other participants were from Kosrae, American Samoa, Fiji, Palau, Hawaii, and even Japan.
The patient was very thankful to have had this opportunity to receive care from a team of experts and expressed his gratitude to the Pohnpei team for their good care. Today was a live procedure that benefited a patient and health care providers from around the Pacific that observed and learned together.
This was the 9th gastroenterology distance learning session that is coordinated by Pohnpei Hospital and conducted in partnership with ANZGITA; Fiji School of Medicine; and the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center. Finally, the Leo Etscheit Foundation and FSM Telecom should be recognized for the continued support in providing the bandwidth necessary for the program.More
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.More
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.More
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).More