Telehealth Gathering Steam

Acceptance and use of telemedicine in California has grown exponentially in the past year, according to a report released yesterday by the California Telehealth Network.

“The California Telehealth Network continues to make significant progress towards our mission of expanding access to quality healthcare in rural and underserved California communities,” said Eric Brown, CTN’s president and CEO, in a written statement. “There were many significant accomplishments over the past year.”

Among the milestones, the report said:

  • Member sites performed more than 13,000 live virtual telemedicine consultations last year in medically underserved areas, both rural and urban;
  • Those sites reached areas totaling a population of about 2 million Californians;
  • Consultation with specialty care providers increased by 50% over 2014;
  • CTN provided subsidized broadband connections to more than 250 safety-net clinics and hospitals in rural and medically underserved communities throughout California;
  • The affiliated California Telehealth Resource Center trained and technical assistance to more than 2,600 health care providers;
  • A distance learning and telemedicine grant paid for telehealth equipment for 10 more sites in 2015;
  • Kaiser Permanente this year donated $1 million to help expand access to telehealth for underserved areas throughout the state;
  • In collaboration with the Maven project, which links volunteer medical school alumni to safety-net clinics, CTN trained an additional 15 volunteer physicians in how to use a videoconferencing platform; and
  • CTN launched Project: U, which compiles information on the level of telemedicine activity at different sites.

“We believe it is important to advance the use of telehealth and information technology,” said Bernard Tyson, the chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, in a written statement, “because they are playing increasingly important roles in expanding access to high-quality care and improving the health of underserved and rural communities throughout California.”

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