Telehealth Blog

Launch of Distance Learning Sessions for Pacific Island Health Care Providers has Immediate Results

Launch of Distance Learning Sessions for Pacific Island Health Care Providers has Immediate Results

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.

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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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Telehealth Round-table Discussion

Telehealth Round-table Discussion

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).

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PBTRC attends 2017 Hawaii Health Workforce Summit

PBTRC attends 2017 Hawaii Health Workforce Summit

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.

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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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