Kansas Health Institute Examines Telemedicine

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Kansas Health Institute News on Monday published a series of articles about telemedicine. Summaries appear below.

* "Kansas a Telemed Leader, Schools Also Connecting": The article examines how Kansas "has been a leader in the development of telemedicine technology," with University of Kansas Medical Center launching the state's telemedicine efforts in 1991. Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, said, "Kansas has been involved since, really, the very early stages. It's one of the pioneers -- especially the people at the University of Kansas Medical Center," adding, "You're not going to find too many people in the field of telemedicine who haven't heard of or interacted with KU." At Hays Medical Center, telemedicine allows physicians to refer patients to doctors in smaller communities, while still being able to view patients' x-rays, scans, lab results and progress. In addition, a number of school districts in eastern and central Kansas have telemedicine capabilities that allow school nurses to be in contact with pediatricians to help treat children when they become sick at school (Ranney [1], KHI News, 9/15).

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* "One-Third of State's Hospitals Offer Telemedicine": Residents of small towns in Kansas are able to be treated by "big-city specialists" because of telemedicine, which is available at about one-third of the state's rural hospitals, KHI News reports. Telemedicine services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and three of the state's five largest insurers -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City and Preferred Health Systems. However, Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, said that because the technology involved is relatively new, it is difficult to define what services fall under the telemedicine category (Ranney [2], KHI News, 9/15).

* "Telemedicine Could Be 'Huge' in Caring For the Elderly": Last year, the Kansas Department on Aging awarded Windsor Place At-Home Health a $120,000 grant to develop a telehealth project aimed at helping seniors avoid hospitalizations and trips to emergency departments, KHI News reports. Fifty seniors each were given a terminal that reported their vital signs to a central location where they were monitored by a nurse. According to Windsor Place Executive Director Monte Coffman, the length of hospitalizations were reduced by 58% to 64%, and ED visits were reduced by 40%. The grant has been renewed for another year (Ranney [3], KHI News, 9/15).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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