Southern Governors’ Association Advocates Creation of 16-State Telemedicine Network
The Southern Governors' Association and the American Telemedicine Association this week asked HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge for support in creating a telemedicine network that would link 16 Southern states and serve as a model for a national system, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The regional network would connect existing telemedicine systems in each of the states and would include the CDC, the NIH and the Army's infectious disease research center at Fort Detrick, Md. The governors proposed creating the network in part to respond to potential bioterrorism attacks, as well as other national security issues. Although an interstate telemedicine system would raise some issues for physicians, particularly with licensure requirements, allowing physicians to practice across state lines is becoming necessary as medicine becomes more specialized, ATA Director Jonathon Linkous said. He added, "In some obscure areas [of medicine] there may be 100 specialists in the whole country. But with a national [telemedicine] network, these specialists can be available to the entire population." Telemedicine has been a "top priority" of the SGA since 1998, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Many large hospitals are now connected to rural facilities throughout the South, improving access to care for underserved populations. For example, in Greenville, N.C., a telemedicine project at Eastern Carolina University provides 12 sites with remote access to medical care in 35 specialties. "If we connect these statewide systems together, we would have a seamless health care delivery system that could bring expertise to where it is needed," Dr. Jay Sanders, president and CEO of Falls Church, Va.-based Global Telemedicine Group, said (Klein, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.